Dan Branch: The eyes of the nation are upon us

By Jonathan Tilove | Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 07:24 AM

 Dallas Rep. says Texas must prove to the nation that the red mega-state can be governed not only conservatively but well.

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Good morning Austin.

This is Rep. Dan Branch , R-Dallas, speaking at yesterday’s day-long Texas Conservative Roundtable Policymakers Conference at the Omni downtown.

“Michigan and Ohio were once great economic engines. If i were California I’d be very concerned about the direction of my state. I mean there’s a state that added congressional seats in every decennial census until this last time. Texas added four new congressional seats. No other state added four. No other state added three. Very few added two. We are the states that’s moving and therefore, as everyone pays attention to us, we beter be responsible with that and show that a conservative, red state, right-of-center state, can govern itself and can solve the issues of the day, the problems and challenges of the day.”

That set the tone for the conference, which began with opening remarks by House Speaker Joe Straus, who said conservatives must “recognize that a healthy business climate requires more than low taxes. The people of this state, young and old, urban and rural, want to know Texas will have the water, the roads and the workers that we will need in order to grow.”

There were panels on education, transportation, healthcare, the budget, water and energy. Branch, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, and others on the education panel, recognized that Texas is a state in some peril.

Bill Hammond , president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business. “Unless we get this issue we’re discussing right, unfortunately Dr. (Steve) Murdock (Rice University demographer) will be right. He’s predicted that by 2040, 30 percent of adult Texans will lack a high school diploma unless we do a beter job of of educating our young people. That’s third world country territory for Texas … Our best educated are old people like me and that’s not good for our future.”

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock , R-Killeen, co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance. “Unless we turn around the black student, the brown student, the poor white student, our future workforce is dismal.”

Branch said that on education, water, roads and power, Texas had to rise to the occasion.

“If we don’t succeed people will say, OK, you had low taxation, you had light regulation, but you failed in the most fundamental areas of limited government, you didn’t invest in infrastructure, you had a massive influx of people – 1,200 a day – and you failed to secure your future.”

It was hard to know exactly what to make of the Texas Conservative Roundtable, which is only about a year old. The lead organizer of yesterday’s conference was Chuck Hahn of Southlake, a Texan of relatively recent vintage who served as chief of staff to California State Senate Republican leader, Dave Cogdill.

AgendaWise last year traced some of its funding indirectly to Straus.

The conference had its corporate sponsors: BP America, ANGA, Pioneer Natural Resources USA, AT&T Services, the Texas Farm Bureau, Wagner Oil, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Hayden Oil & Gas and Gategreen Partners.

From Straus, who opened the day, to critical legislators like Branch, who peopled its panels, to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst , who closed the day, it had heavyweight participation. But to call attendance light would be generous. Never more than 50 and sometimes fewer than 20.

“The whole point of this is not to have an agenda but to have a conversation,” said Dallas attorney Brigham McCown , a member of the TCR board.

But, almost as soon as it was formed, TCR issued a legislative scorecard for the last session and, after it develops an agenda for this session based on conversations like yesterday’s, it will do the same for this session.

Branch ambition

Gromer Jeffers reports in The Dallas Morning News that Branch is considering running for attorney general if Greg Abbott decides to seek another office.

“It’s not a burp; it’s barely a fart.”

That’s how California Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed Gov. RIck Perry’s California radio ads inviting California businesses to relocate to the greener pastures of Texas. The Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater reported that at media availability at a UPS distribution center Tuesday, Brown said the measly $24,000 radio ad buy, paid for by TexasOne, a public-private partnership, was too piddling to be taken seriously.

“If they want to get in the game, let them spend $25 million on radio and television. Then I’ll take them seriously,” said Brown.

Machine Gun Morgan

CNN host Piers Morgan, who backs an assault weapons ban, brought his show to a gun store in Katy, Texas, Monday night, where he tried firing a machine gun and interviewed Attorney General Greg Abbott , who, when asked why anyone would need such weaponry, answered: “The [Mexican] cartels and the drug dealers are crossing the border confronting ranchers on an ongoing basis in the state of Texas. They deserve, under the Second Amendment, to have the ability to meet force with force, which is what the Second Amendment guarantees. So these ranchers need to be able to protect themselves.”

On his Facebook page, Gov. Rick Perry , wrote that he and “all Texas law-abiding gun owners hope that Piers Morgan enjoyed Texas. He failed, however, to convince anyone that citizens should lose the ability to protect themselves and their families by having their 2nd Amendment rights and freedoms taken from them.” [……]

Continue Reading on Statesman.com

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