Anti-Project Connect bill dies: The Legislature adjourned without passing anything related to Project Connect.
Sen. Paul Bettencourt's last-minute changes to the bill –– which would have undermined the project's funding entirely –– ended up backfiring. When Rep. Ellen Troxclair, R-Lakeway, the bill's author, tried to get it through the House, Rep. John Bucy, D-Austin, raised a point of order, arguing that the bill's new wording was so different that it was completely different from the original version. The parliamentarian agreed, forcing the bill back to the Senate. It seems the easiest thing for them to do at that point would be to simply adopt the less extreme bill –– the one reluctantly agreed to by Mayor Kirk Watson –– but for some reason they didn't.
Most of the credit appears to belong with Bettencourt for the giant unforced error, but Mayor Kirk Watson and others who recognized the awfulness of the proposed changes and sprung into action to stop it also deserve kudos. From the Statesman:
“My objective from the beginning has been to protect this voter-approved community investment for generations to come, even if that meant bringing the issue back to the voters of Austin,” Watson said Thursday. “I negotiated in good faith to address some issues that were raised by legislators all while protecting the viability of Project Connect.
"The Senate amendment, however, would have made Project Connect impossible, so we worked with Rep. Bucy and our House delegation to stop the amended bill with a point of order. We will be keeping a close eye on the issue until the end of the legislative session.”
The upshot is that there is no longer any reason for Austin to hold another election on Project Connect this fall. At least there doesn't appear to be ...
But what about the special session?