Bonnen isn’t alone
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
If you haven’t been paying attention to one of the biggest scandals in the history of Texas government, you are among probably the vast majority of Texans. But it affects your life in countless ways.
Among the most important but also most easily overlooked revelations in the fall from grace of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, was how much he hates for your local government to have authority to do much of anything.
We’re talking about the local officials you elected — the ones who decide whether to build or rebuild your neighborhood streets and schools, give your kids’ teachers a raise, fix the playgrounds at the parks and how often to mow the grass, to mention just a few things.
You can go to City Hall, your county courthouse or your school administration building to complain in person you don’t like what they’re doing. Your state Capitol building in Austin is a lot farther away unless you live in Austin. And it’s more intimidating. The typical good citizen is at risk of losing his or her bluster before making it up the granite steps. ...
Since 2015, when Gov. Greg Abbott took office and became the standard-bearer for putting local governments in a lowly subordinate place, they have lost the right to protect trees, require fingerprint checks of Uber drivers and limit or prohibit single-use plastic bags. If your senator or representative was against any of that, he or she failed to stop all of it.
Bonnen became speaker only this year, but he has been a key House member through all of that. How about your state senator and representative? ...
Cornyn firing blanks
It’s good to see Sen. John Cornyn hasn’t given up trying to reduce the carnage from gun violence, but the latest bill he is co-sponsoring is yet another incremental step that falls short of what’s really needed.
Cornyn and five other Republican senators — Tim Scott of South Carolina, Martha McSally of Arizona, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia — have introduced the RESPONSE (Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts) Act.
Unfortunately, the bill’s title may be bigger than its impact.
It includes some good ideas, including measures to encourage internet service providers to share information about potentially violent users with law enforcement agencies, increase the number of federal/local task forces investigating illegal firearms sales, and help states increase mental health and crisis intervention programs.
Those steps are welcome, but they aren’t the bold response many wanted after Texas experienced two mass shootings this year. Twenty-two people were killed Aug. 3 by a gunman who sprayed death from an AK-47 at an El Paso Walmart. Seven more were killed Aug. 31 by a gunman firing from his truck as he drove through Midland and Odessa.
Cornyn successfully sponsored legislation last year that similarly will likely have only marginal impact on gun violence. The so-called “Fix NICS” law penalizes government agencies that fail to properly report information to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The Air Force revealed after 26 people were killed by a mass murderer two years ago at a Sutherland Springs church that it failed to notify the FBI database that the gunman had been court-martialed for assault, a crime that would have prevented him from buying a gun.
Cornyn said he would use the same approach that garnered bipartisan support for the NICS legislation to pass the RESPONSE bill. “For those who say, ‘We want you to do more,’ I’m happy to listen, but I’m also interested to know how we can actually achieve the objective,” he said.
Our answer to that is perseverance. Stop settling for legislation that only weakly addresses gun violence. Instead, speak up for necessary gun reform. It’s been six months since the House passed a bill that would require background checks for all firearm sales. If Cornyn wants to “achieve the objective,” he and other Republicans need to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House measure up for a vote and lobby their colleagues to vote yes. ...