Saturday, April 30, 2011

Simpson: Legislature's rush to regulate

Be assured that the Texas House is nearly divine. It makes its own rules, suspends them and even purports to stop and go back in time. Last Thursday, we celebrated San Jacinto Day twice in order to take care of business according to "the rules."

Speaking of rules, House Bills 1451, 1146 and 1853 were stated to be in compliance with House Rule 6, Section 23 (c) (2) when they were placed on the local and consent calendar. The rule is: "No bill or resolution shall be placed on the local, consent, and resolutions calendar that ... authorizes or requires the expenditure or diversion of state funds for any purpose, as determined by a fiscal note attached to the bill."

Even though all three of these bills increase the number of state employees, collect new fees and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars ($1.3 million in the case of HB 1451) per year, the parliamentarian ruled that as long as a bill purports to spend the same amount as it charges in fees, it can be placed on the local and consent calendar and sail through without debate.

For a moment on Thursday, I thought I was in Washington. I learned that "it is what it is" when I made some parliamentary inquiries.

This week, the House twice passed laws (HB 44 and HB 2779) that break contracts that Texans drew up and voluntarily agreed to keep. I respect the goals of these bills: to restore property and First Amendment rights that were voluntarily given up in joining homeowners associations. However, the Legislature should enforce contracts, not break them. And if it is going to prohibit homeowner's associations from limiting the display of flags or the use of adjacent lots, it should do so prospectively and not make them retroactive.

Running roughshod over the rule of law is often caused by good intentions. I am sure Santa Anna had good intentions when he took our forefathers' freedoms and wanted to rule their consciences. However, what Texas needs is a wise and frugal Legislature that leaves Texans alone unless they harm their neighbor.

Read the rest here.

POINT OF ACTION: I would encourage all liberty-loving Texans to write the Austin-American Statesman and briefly convey your support of Simpson and his worldview, as well as your gratitude for the Statesman running his Op-Ed.
Here's a link to their "Letter to the Editor" page:

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