The Bad Bills Girl
TERMS OF ENQUEERMENT
H.B. 41 (Chisum, D-Pampa)
Warren Chisum has built a small legislative career on defending the public from the ravages of homosexuality, and he’s back in the bedroom of Texas residents – this time defining “deviate sexual intercourse” as: (a) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the anus of another person; or (b) the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object. That’s all useful information. It’s also good to know that “homosexual activity” is deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex. But how to apply the news? Before placing any child in an adoptive or foster home, the state must determine whether homosexual activity is occurring or likely to occur in the home. Pasadena Republican Robert Talton has included bi-sexuals in a similar bill on adoptive and foster parents.
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
H.B. 383 (Chisum, D-Pampa)
Short and sweet, it’s Chisum’s version of the proposed federal Defense of Marriage Act – the state would not recognize any public record or judicial proceeding that validates a marriage between persons of the same sex, nor would the state recognize any claim made under “the results of such a purported marriage.”
TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT
H.B. 30 (Wohlgemuth, R-Waco)
Arlene Wohlgemuth killed fifty-two bills in a fit of parliamentary pique last session, when the House failed to bring her anti-abortion bill to the floor. The buzz around the Capitol was that if Wohlgemuth returned, her legislative agenda would be dead because she had burned so many colleagues. She’s back, and among the bills she has filed is a goofy favorite of the Christian Right. The Covenant Marriage is a cut above the disposable, non-covenant version – it is a Marriage For Life. Covenant couplings must be preceded by counseling on the obligations of the Covenant Marriage, by a reading of the Covenant Marriage Pamphlet, and an oath to take all reasonable efforts to preserve the union, “including marriage counseling.” The anti-divorce provision prohibits divorce unless a certified marriage counselor or both of the signatories to the Covenant agree that the marriage cannot be sustained. However, a spouse in a Covenant Marriage can file suit to obtain an order of legal separation on grounds of adultery, felony, imprisonment, or habitual abuse of drugs or alcohol. Feel cheated by your standard non-covenant marriage? For a small filing fee you can upgrade – after you read the pamphlet and take the oath.
VACATION IN HUNTSVILLE
H.B. 657 (Keel, R-Austin)
It might be time to invest in that Huntsville hotel. Terry Keel, former sheriff of Travis County, has jumped on the victims’ rights bandwagon with a bill that requires the state to pay murder victims’ families’ travel and lodging costs to Huntsville to observe the real execution of justice. There are no guest quarters at the Walls Unit, so the closest spot would be a local hotel. Keel’s bill doesn’t say if the state will pay more than once, in the event of those annoying last-minute stays. With the rush on to add new categories of capital crime, there could be a real tourist boost for Huntsville.
DON’T BLEED, JUST SIGN
H.B. 317 (Chávez, D-El Paso)
Carnival and amusement park rides aren’t regulated in Texas – insurance policies and inspections are expected to make the industry self-regulating. Anyone injured in an amusement park confronts a law so full of loopholes that park operators routinely get a free ride in court, and even the Insurance Commission is making the case for reform. Norma Chávez, usually one of the good guys, wants to shift responsibility to the victim – or at least to provide an additional defense against lawsuits brought by people injured in a park or carnival. The bill lists a half-dozen responsibilities for riders, including a long list of facts to provide to park owners immediately after an accident. If an injured rider doesn’t fill in all the blanks and meet all the conditions there are no grounds for a lawsuit. Oh – ride operators have to post signs or verbally warn riders of potential hazards.
RAD WASTE FOR EVERYONE
H.B. 674 (Gallego, D-Alpine)
No one has ever called the Texas Low Level Radiation Waste Disposal Authority a fair and efficient state agency. After all, it has spent more than $55 million trying to locate a nuclear waste dump in three unsuitable sites in Hudspeth County, and only last October finally got word from the T.N.R.C.C. that there would be no dump in Sierra Blanca. Pete Gallego, who represents Sierra Blanca, has come up with a great idea for reform: no Authority. Gallego proposes contracting out disposal to private companies, which would pay a skeleton-crew at what remains of the Authority a small fee to dump radioactive waste. The bill also eliminates the agency’s executive director’s position, and therefore would require Rick Jacobi to go back to work directly for the industry (some say he never left). But along the way, Gallego wipes out sections of the health and safety code, and eliminates any consideration of waste reduction technologies and alternatives to dumping. It’s no secret that the Waste Control Specialists is looking at a new “private” dumpsite in Andrews County, but existing state law doesn’t allow private companies to dispose of radioactive waste. Gallego’s bill is a step in that direction.
Bad Bills are compiled by the Observer‘s Bad Bills Girl, a slightly mythical creature who rises from vampire-like hibernation every two years to suck the blood of vile or absurd state legislation. If you have a likely candidate for “Bad Bills,” please fax her at (512) 474-1175, or e-mail “email@example.com”.