Thursday, February 1, 2007


Call me old school, but I have a tendency to take people at their word.

If Billy Clyde is motoring through some strange town and needs directions to the nearest Dairy Queen, he pulls over to a gas station and asks someone. If that person says, "Take a left at that vacant lot, then go a spell until you hit the old junior high practice field, where you take a right and go up the hill past Old Man Johnson's place and you'll see it about one street over on the left behind that patch of pecan trees," then I follow the directions to the letter.

With that sort of specificity, you gotta assume that this friendly local knows PRECISELY where the Dairy Queen is, so you thank this person several times and make make your way toward the BeltBuster stand.

Well, several people -- people who know every bit as much about the legislative process as that hypothetical direction-giver knows about the location of the Dairy Queen -- told me this morning that Representative Fred Hill is genuinely perplexed that the main appraisal cap bill, HB 190, got referred to Big Ways and Means, and not Local and Pretend Ways and Means. I scanned the room looking for Chairman Hill but didn't spot him. And it's not my issue or really that important anyway.

But if Mr. Hill expressed extreme bewilderment, then doubtless it's sincere bewilderment. It also means that Mr. Hill is the only person in North American who didn't just ASSUME that those types of bills would be sent to the real Ways and Means Committee. The tykes at the neighborhood day care center -- the ones who have yet to master the simplest of bodily functions -- have been sitting around speculating that appraisal cap legislation would be referred to Chairman Keffer's panel.

BC is in the camp that believes appraisal reform, while important, lacks traction this session. BC is also in the camp that believes we may have a verification vote on a Memorial Resolution in the not-so-distant future -- particularly if the dead honoree had, during his living days, ever heard the name "Jimmy Dunnam" or "Beverly Woolley."

Far be it from me to ever criticize the leader of the Best State in the World's Best Nation. But Billy Clyde was smooth-assed floored when Governor Rick Perry tapped Dallas gadfly Tom Pauken to head the ad valorem tax appraisal reform task force. Don't have anything against the gentleman personally; just not the name that spontaneously jumps into my head when I think "consensus builder."

This issue is of supreme importance to hundreds, maybe thousands, of Republican primary voters in small pockets of Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, and Brazoria counties. But so what? In all likelihood, Governor Perry won't ever face the electorate again. Were I in his shoes, I would take actions much more controversial than appointing Mr. Pauken to a meaningless committee. I'd do all sorts of heavy-handed extralegal tyrannical stuff on a wide array of issues, both to push my narrow personal agenda and to just sorta jack with the system for amusement value. That's why Billy Clyde should never be granted authority over much more than getting a tee time.

This brings me to the critical juncture where it's time to make a point. (Give me a second, please: Dairy Queens, Fred Hill, establishing fair market values on real property for purposes of establishing the effective tax rate, dead people resolutions, reading and referral of bills -- uh, I seem to lack a common thread.)

Okay, let's try this. If it takes three hours to not adopt a meaningless House Resolution, and eight hours to go through a pro-forma vote for Speaker, and ten hours to settle on House rules that are virtually identical to decades of previous House rules ...

Then Bill Clyde predicts that a substantive, on-the-merits floor debate on appraisal restrictions will take approximately two months. And that, my buddies, leaves us just enough time to adjourn sine die.

So I better make that tee time today.


dreamer said...

Have you played that UT course? I figure what with you being all connected and such, you probably have. Me, I'm partial to Jimmy Clay. It's right by my house.

Billy Clyde said...

The UT Country Club is great. The Aggies and Oklahoma State had their own courses. We gotta keep up with the Joneses.