We approached the start of the 84th biennial Texas Legislative session with a mix of fear and giddy anticipation. There were a few things we knew going in -- mainly that open carry and anti-gay marriage stuff would be big -- but as for the rest of the political show, we just couldn't be sure what was coming. Well, we are now well into the best political reality show this side of Washington D.C., and the lawmakers that the people of Texas have unleashed to legislate have really been paying off with some entertaining bill filings. (In this parlance, "entertaining" means "we have to laugh or our blood pressure and the screaming will become a real issue.") There are many bills to choose from, but we've singled out some of our, ahem, favorites to highlight this time around:
5. The one where only people from Texas will be able to get public information. HB 1118, filed by state Rep. Mike Schofield, a Republican from Katy, would give governmental bodies the right to decide whether or not to comply with open records requests filed by those who don't actually live in the state of Texas. This one is ridiculous on a few counts. For one thing, Texas, surprisingly, has some of the best open records laws on the books. (We're right up there with Florida, in fact).
This would essentially make it possible for any representative of any governmental body to eye an open records request and then drag his or her feet on actually complying with the law based on the "you-ain't-from-around-here" defense. This is Texas and implying that the rest of the world shouldn't be obsessed with what goes on within the borders of our fascinating state -- a.k.a. the center of the universe -- is just silly. To cut off access to open records to inquiring minds from Ohio would just be wrong. Besides, if they can't know everything there is to know about Texas, education-wise, how will they ever get to realize that we really are better than every other state around?