Politics & Government

Top state official invites conservative talk show host to Texas

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, discouraged by remarks made last week by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about pro-life conservatives, recently said he is ready to leave New York.

“I can’t wait to get out of here. I really can’t,” the native New Yorker recently said on his radio program. “I don’t want to pay their 10-percent state tax anymore. I live in the second-highest property taxed county in the entire country in Nassau County. I can’t wait to sell my house to somebody who wants it.”

He said he was considering a move to Florida or Texas, where there’s no state income tax. “I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning Florida because I like the water and I like to fish.”

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent a letter to Hannity encouraging him to make his new home in Texas.

“As you prepare to ‘Escape from New York,’ I sincerely hope you’ll choose Texas as the destination for your family, your business and the traditional values that are apparently no longer welcome in the Empire State,” Dewhurst’s letter read.

Keep the lights on

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, voted against the recent omnibus spending bill even though it included a provision near and dear to him — preserving the incandescent light bulb.

The bill continues the budget tactic by opponents of not funding the phase-out of the bulbs, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 as part of an energy efficiency law.

“It basically delays the ban on the traditional incandescent light bulb,” said Barton, whose district includes Arlington, in a statement. “This means Americans (especially low and middle income people) can continue to switch on an affordable and reliable product, instead of turning to one that costs five times more and may not live up to manufacturers’ promises.”

Barton said he was not “anti-new technology.”

“I just think people should be able to decide on their own,” he said. “This was a blatant case of government interference and over-regulation. Allowing people freedom of choice on something as basic as a light bulb is a no-brainer.”

Counting bills

Hardhatters.com released a report showing that even though more Republicans serve in the Texas Legislature than Democrats, nearly half of the laws passed during last year’s regular legislative session were either authored or co-authored by Democrats.

During the session, state lawmakers filed 5,868 bills — 3,950 in the House and 1,918 in the Senate, according to the report.

Overall, 1,437 of those bills went to the governor’s desk and 1,411 became law. Nearly half were authored or co-authored by Democrats, the report showed.

“Democrats in both the Texas House and Senate are very successful at getting laws passed and enacted,” according to the report.

Pension negotiations

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price attended the annual United States Conference of Mayors last week, meeting with delegates and staff about issues facing Fort Worth.

Price said that the mayors talked about pension problems facing cities across the nation and that she feels confident the city is handling the pension negotiations with police and fire employees correctly.

Both the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters and members of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association have sued the city over changes.

High-speed rail to Mexico

Do you know the way to Monterrey? Well, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, thinks it’s going to be a high-speed rail corridor from San Antonio to Monterrey that will have a stop in Laredo.

At a high-level Jan. 16 meeting in Washington, officials from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Mexican government met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and U.S. rail officials.

According to Cuellar, who also attended, it went very well. “He was very interested,” said Cuellar of Foxx. “He was very impressed with the Mexicans’ teamwork and coordination.” Supporters want the U.S. Transportation Department to add $400,000 to a study of a rail corridor already underway that will connect Oklahoma — via Fort Worth and Dallas — to San Antonio and the border.

“The Mexicans are way ahead of us,” said Cuellar. The Mexican government has already secured the right-of-way to the U.S. border, a vital component that has stymied high-speed rail in other areas. Mexico’s part of the high-speed rail line to the border, which would be built with a public-private partnership, will be ready by 2018 and Cuellar wants the U.S. to catch up. The international high-speed rail line “will be the first of its kind,” he said.

Staff writer Caty Hirst contributed to this report.