Thursday, March 24, 2005

Update from yesterday on muni wireless, biometrics, APD jurisdiction

If your city wants to provide municipal wireless service in your Texas community, as the City of Addison recently chose to do, tell your city council they'd better hurry.

A compromise was reached on an amendment to Rep. Phil King's HB 789 that lets cities install wireless networks through 2006, then forbids it after that. It's better than what San Antonio Democrat Robert Puente disgracefully proposed,
but not as good as the compromise amendment Rep. Vicki Truitt originally offered - they negotiated outside the chamber for quite a while and wound up with the new language. Puente's amendment was Southwestern Bell's wording enacting a complete ban on new public wireless projects

Kudos to local Rep, Todd Baxter, R-Austin, for leading the charge for the good guys on the House floor; Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez spoke against the amendment, too, but Baxter was animated and clearly passionate about the topic, which was nice to see. House veterans Sylvester Turner, Garnet Coleman and Scott Hochberg, all from Houston, provided the big guns for the Dems against this particular piece of nastiness. See the Save Muni Wireless blog for the whole story on the amendment, and Statesman coverage on the rest of the bill.

The Defense Affairs committee that was to have heard biometrics did not meet because the House went so late. Meanwhile Rep. Terry Keel's bad bill giving Austin PD jurisdiction on the UT campus passed out of the full House. As Mike Ward related on the Statesman's Lege blog, though, Keel had a highlight reel moment yesterday when he shot down Rep. Tony Goolsby's new massive fines for toll absconders. Blessedly, the House has adjourned until Tuesday for the Easter break.

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