Texas Matters: There is finally movement on the government shutdown in D.C. but Democrats say it's not enough. While there is plenty of support for Prop. 6, the November ballot item to establish a water fund, there is also a strong current of opposition. Also on this show: GOP candidates in Texas try to stay true to fundamentals and appeal to Latino voters, and the future of execution drugs used in Texas.
Is the end of the government shutdown finally in sight?
Gridlock is nothing new in Washington, D.C., but the latest face-off in Congress is beyond gridlock. There’s concern that the legislature won’t get its act together to raise the debt ceiling, which could damage the nation’s financial markets or even worse.
Polling shows that most of the nation blames the Republican Party and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the problem despite their pleas of innocence. Mounting public pressure is forcing the GOP is slowly drop their demands.
Last week we heard from Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, and this week we check in with Democratic Congressman Joaquín Castro of San Antonio.
"There's something I think most Americans are not aware of -- and something that before I got here I was hardly aware of -- and that's called the Hastert Rule. The Hastert Rule is a rule that has been imposed by Republican speakers since Newt Gingrich that says they will not bring a piece of legislation to the floor for a vote unless it has the support of a majority of the majority... Because the speaker, if he put a clean CR on the floor, would not be able to get a majority of Republicans to support it, for that reason he's not putting it on the floor."
Is Prop. 6 the solution to Texas' water problems, or just a slush fund?
Texans will be asked to go to the polls on Nov. 5 to decide a slate of constitutional amendments referred to commonly as propositions. But there won’t be much else on the ballot across the state and voter participation is expected to be low.
That has many worried since Prop. 6 on the ballot that day is being sold by a bi-partisan collection of state legislators as a solution to the Texas water problems.
Gov. Rick Perry and others are working with a well-funded campaign to convince voters to vote "yes" to Prop. 6, but there are others who see something else and are opposing it.
Linda Curtis is the director of the group Independent Texans.
"We've already seen terrible things going on in water policy -- terrible waste -- and we do not trust that this money is going to be used wisely because it has less controls than the $6 billion in bonding authority that we passed in 2011 that's still sitting there, it hasn't been touched."
Also on this edition of Texas Matters:
The Texas GOP and the Latino vote
Texas holds its political primaries on March 6 and the big race for the Republican party is who will win the nomination for lieutenant governor.
The job is called the most powerful leadership post in the state and there are four major candidates vying for the spot.
- Incumbent David Dewhurst,
- Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples
- Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
- State Senator & Radio Talk Show Host Dan Patrick
Patrick is setting the tone for the race with a television ad that takes aim at a state law that gives immigrants who are in the state illegally in-state college tuition rates.
This ad has ignited a brouhaha over the issue with other candidates crying foul, particularly Patterson. Latino Republicans don’t like where this is going as more candidates are running campaigns that are "dinosaur politics" and are cynically targeting illegal immigrants for cheap political points.
Art Martinez de Vara is the co-founder of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans and is the mayor of Von Ormy, which is just southwest of San Antonio.
"I'm disappointed that that issue has become the dominant issue in this race. I know it's early on, but in the grand scheme of things it's such a insignificant issue compared to what the lieutenant governor's duties are. It's a law that was put into place by a Republican legislature, signed by a Republican governor. As a Hispanic Republican, as a younger Republican, those aren't the issues we want to see our candidates debate as we decide who we are going to vote for in the primary."
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and their execution drugs
On Wednesday Texas executed Michael Yowell, who was convicted of killing his parents in 1998 and blowing up their Lubbock Home.
Yowell was the first inmate in Texas to be executed using compounded pentobarbital, a barbiturate. Anti-death penalty activists objected to the use of the drug saying it was not approved and there should be more oversight over the use of new execution drugs.
The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed -- at least for this instance -- and questions remain about what Texas will do when this small supply of death drug runs out.
Maurie Levin is an attorney who represented Yowell in his death row appeals.
"At the root of all of this is, I think, is a lack of transparency by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and we have seen -- it has been in the newspapers and such -- that they are really skirting the law in how they ago about getting these drugs. They made misrepresentations -- would be a nice way to put it -- to Mr. Lavoy, the head of the compounding pharmacy where they got this batch of drugs."