Ses­sion re­quest: A civil de­bate

Po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion can be haz­ardous to our health. State has more oc­cu­pa­tional li­cens­ing than any other, says Katy Repub­li­can.

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - Her­man B dbarer@states­ RODOLFO GON­ZA­LEZ / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN Bills B


nailed it by re­quir­ing Texas leg­is­la­tors to meet in reg­u­lar ses­sion only in odd­num­bered years (with “odd” as the op­er­a­tive word).

Looks like next year is an odd one, which means 140 days of makin’ ba­con at the Capi­tol, which means about five months of philo­soph­i­cal fights among var­i­ous in­ter­ests, which means it could sound kind of like the 2012 elec­tions that con­sumed many months and many hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

I re­cently heard a 10-minute ver­sion of the dis­cus­sion that will per­vade the ses­sion. It was a ba­sic dis­cus­sion of ba­sic dif­fer­ences about what government should and shouldn’t do. It’s an im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tion. And be­cause it’s of­ten a con­tentious con­ver­sa­tion, I ap­pre­ci­ated the civil tone of the ver­sion I heard at a re­cent con­fer­ence to help new Texas leg­is­la­tors get up to speed. (His­tory tells us some never will.)

Rep. Myra Crownover, RDen­ton, ig­nited the dis­cus­sion by say­ing that Texas is “by de­sign and by de­sire a low­tax state” and that “it wants to be a low-ser­vice state.” An au­di­ence mem­ber asked her to de­fine “low-ser­vice state.” Crownover, now the House GOP Cau­cus chair, of­fered a GOP boil­er­plate re­sponse.

“I think Tex­ans re­spect tak­ing care of them­selves. They want to be in­de­pen­dent. They don’t want to be de­pen­dent on government,” she said. “That does not mean there (are not) very core func­tions of government that pri­vate in­dus­try or pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als can­not do.

“But I think Tex­ans … have re­spect for the in­di­vid­ual, re­spect for choices that in­di­vid­u­als can make, and they don’t want government (as the) be-all and end-all in the lives of Tex­ans,” she said.

Rep. Ed­die Rodriguez, DAustin, de­liv­ered coun­ter­point

By David Barer

You have to be li­censed to sham­poo hair in Texas. That epit­o­mizes the growth of government reg­u­la­tion that state Rep. Bill Cal­le­gari, R-Katy, aims to re­duce dur­ing the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion. Cal­le­gari has al­ready filed four bills, with more to come, that could cut red tape and elim­i­nate reg­u­la­tions across the state.

The leg­is­la­tion could dis­man­tle pro­grams as large as Texas’ con­tro­ver­sial STAAR test for pub­lic schools and ease re­stric­tions on all oc­cu­pa­tional li­cens­ing in the state. Other, smaller-scope re­forms would change laws re­quir­ing the use of vot­ing machines in some small elec­tions and reg­u­lat­ing the re­port­ing of small sewage spills.

“We are go­ing to be bom- barded with count­less more reg­u­la­tions than we have now. We need to get into a mode so we are able to min­i­mize the ef­fects of that,” said Cal­le­gari, chair­man of the House Government Efi­ciency and Re­form Com­mit­tee.

For a state that prides it­self on low reg­u­la­tion and job cre­ation, Texas has more oc­cu­pa­tional li­cens­ing than most states, Cal­le­gari said. Tex­ans must be li­censed to work in a va­ri­ety of jobs, in­clud­ing as a

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