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Highlights Thursday from the Texas Legislature (Gambling, Workers Comp, Asbestos & Famous Texans)
Austin American-Statesman ^ | March 31, 2005

Posted on 03/31/2005 5:12:15 PM PST by SwinneySwitch

AUSTIN — This time, leading Republicans and Democrats agreed. They joined together at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to proclaim that they don't want an expansion of gambling.

"Empty promises to get rich quick do nothing but bring devastation and addiction," said Tina Benkiser, chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party. "We're being asked to gamble away our children's future in the biggest con game of all times."

Legislators looking to cut property taxes while giving more money to schools are considering more than 20 gambling proposals, including video slot machines at racetracks and Las Vegas-style casinos. Conservative Republicans and a group of leading Democrats are working to block efforts to expand wagering.

Some Democratic leaders are accusing Republican legislative leaders of chicanery, saying they created a bad education bill that doesn't have the funding needed to truly end the Texas school finance crisis. The Democrats say those Republicans are secretly pushing gambling without publicly supporting it.

"If we get gambling, it wasn't a Democrat who gave it to you," said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, to a crowd chanting "No slots" and toting signs with slogans like "Don't mess with the Texas Constitution."

Republican Gov. Rick Perry last year included video slot machines in his own education finance plan. But on Thursday he said he was never pushing the idea, only laying out an assortment of options for lawmakers to consider.

He said he still doesn't consider gambling legislation dead this session, although it would be difficult to pass.

"While the Legislature's still in town and working, and we've got 45, 50-plus days, and I would think everything's still on the table from the standpoint of a legitimate issue," Perry said.



The House gave final approval Thursday to its revamp of the Texas workers' compensation system. Supporters promise the proposal will deliver better medical care to injured employees and lower costs for business.

While the House tentatively approved the bill the previous day with a 144-3 recorded vote, the chamber gave final approval Thursday in an unrecorded voice vote. Under House rules, a voice vote on final passage presumes that all House members voted "yes," unless they state otherwise in the House journal.

Like the Senate version passed about two weeks ago, the House bill would create managed-care style networks of doctors similar to private health plans. The current system generally allows injured employees to pick their physician from a state-approved doctor list.

The House and Senate will now negotiate any differences in their two proposals.



Chip Hough spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending his company in asbestos lawsuits. The catch, he said, is his company never had anything to do with the carcinogen.

"The bottom line is companies like mine have to pay for asbestos litigation, but the truth is we all pay, and we all lose," Hough, managing partner of Basic Industries of South Texas, Ltd., said during a news conference by a group called Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

Legislation filed in the Senate and House aims to limit the number of asbestos lawsuits filed in Texas by allowing only those who are truly sick from exposure to sue. The proposal would eliminate the current two-year time limit for filing of personal injury lawsuits when an individual finds out they've been exposed to asbestos.

Supporters of the legislation say it protects those who have been injured by asbestos exposure by preventing those who aren't sick from suing and getting money they don't deserve, driving companies to bankruptcy and depriving real victims of compensation.

Critics of the proposal say it protects companies that have harmed Texans.

"The bills strip away the legal rights of thousands of victims of asbestos-related diseases," said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch.



The House honored two famous deceased Texans: boxing great Jack Johnson of Galveston and Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, a native of Lake Jackson who later lived in Corpus Christi.

Johnson, the first black world heavyweight boxing champion, was featured recently by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

Selena, as she was known on stage, was a star in the Tejano music world and was starting to cross over into mainstream pop when at the age of 23 she was shot to death on March 31, 1995, by the founder of her fan club.



"The idea that we're not going to have any gambling in Texas, I think, is a fairy tale." Republican Gov. Rick Perry discussing existing illegal gambling and proposed video slot machine legislation.


TOPICS: Government; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: asbestos; famoustexans; gambling; rickperry; rinorick; slots; workerscomp

Harry Cabluck AP
Linda Metcalfe, right, of Dallas holds her sign as she calls for 'No slots' during an anti-gambling rally at the Capitol in Austin on Thursday. Texas legislators, looking for ways to cut property taxes while giving more money to schools, have filed more than 20 gambling proposals that would allow everything from slot machines at racetracks to Las Vegas-style casinos.
1 posted on 03/31/2005 5:12:16 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch
Las Vegas-style casinos

I we get it all. Wide open.

2 posted on 03/31/2005 5:16:40 PM PST by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Texas and gambling? I think we should ask this man...

3 posted on 03/31/2005 5:26:03 PM PST by Phantom Lord (Advantages are taken, not handed out)
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To: Dubya

You must stay away from gambling, booze, pot, drugs, loose women and fast cars if you expect to live a Godly and Christian life.

4 posted on 03/31/2005 5:28:53 PM PST by Teplukin (u)
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To: Teplukin

Are fast women and loose cars ok?

5 posted on 03/31/2005 5:32:12 PM PST by linear (You men can't fight in here - this is the War Room!)
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To: linear
As far as cars go, pick-ups are fine (so long as they are American made). In terms of women, I suggest you never socialize with one who is not related to you by blood or marriage.

Yes, you can goggle at Ann Coulter when she is on TV, but meeting her in person will make tongues wag.
6 posted on 03/31/2005 5:38:51 PM PST by Teplukin (u)
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To: SwinneySwitch

I'd rather have casinos than the stupid lottery.
As it is the nearest is 60 miles away and I've yet to go to it !

7 posted on 03/31/2005 6:03:54 PM PST by 1066AD
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To: Phantom Lord

Who is that man?

8 posted on 04/01/2005 5:28:21 AM PST by PetroniDE (Profile of Winners: Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, President G.W. Bush, Free Republic)
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To: PetroniDE

Doyle Brunson. Likely the greatest poker player in American history.

9 posted on 04/01/2005 6:06:55 AM PST by Phantom Lord (Advantages are taken, not handed out)
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To: SwinneySwitch

How can you use "highlights" and "Texas legislature" in the same sentence?

10 posted on 04/01/2005 6:19:31 AM PST by Redbob
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To: Redbob

It's from the Unamerican-Unstatesman!

11 posted on 04/01/2005 6:29:48 AM PST by SwinneySwitch (Remember, this is only a temporary exile!)
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