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Senator Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, said today that he would likely introduce two redistricting map bills into the Senate after committee talks broke down on redistricting. Heath said there was no reason for further conversations with Republicans, who he said did not have authority to negotiate.
Though bipartisan cooperation on redrawing congressional lines was heralded by Republican and Democratic leadership at the start of the session, those talks appear to have now failed.
Heath said that co-chair Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, had been sincere in the creation of his maps. He went on to say that it was equally clear to him that Republicans had not been given the authority to negotiate with Democrats.
“When you don’t have authority, there is no place to start talking,” Heath said. “That group had no authority to negotiate with us–that became clear.”
Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, said he would be willing to return to the tables if progress seemed likely, but from what he had seen so far, he said progress was unlikely. He said he had given Heath late bill authority to introduce the redistricting maps.
Republicans have continued to call for Democrats to return to the table and have said they wanted to throw the old maps out and start drawing all new maps.
Talks broke down after Republican maps paid little heed to competitive districts and Democratic maps radically reshaped districts in order to make them more competitive.
Heath said there needed to be a foundation to create a compromise. He said he hoped his bills would start that process.
Heath appeared to have no more interest in continuing discussions in the redistricting committee.
Heath said his bills will be introduced later this week, but told the Colorado Independent that he did not want to say yet whether he had incorporated Republican ideas into his map.
From the Dallas Morning News, “Gov. Rick Perry approved .5 million for donor’s start-up firm without regional board’s OK“:
Gov. Rick Perry approved a .5 million award from the state’s technology fund to a company founded by a major campaign donor despite the company’s failure to win the endorsement of a regional screening board, The Dallas Morning News has learned.
The money was awarded in August to Convergen Lifesciences Inc., founded by Perry contributor David G. Nance. Convergen was allowed to bypass a key part of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund’s extensive process for vetting applications, and to proceed for approval to a statewide advisory board appointed by Perry.
A spokeswoman for Perry said Tuesday that the money was properly awarded to Convergen because the law establishing the tech fund allows applicants to appeal decisions by regional reviewers.
However, the law makes no mention of such appeals.
The chairman of the regional board in Houston, one of the state’s largest, told The News he had never heard of an appeals process. Walter Ulrich, also a former member of the tech fund’s statewide advisory committee, said approval by regional boards is mandatory.
“It cannot go to the state without our board’s approval,” he said. “I’ve never seen that happen.”
Walt Trybula, a nanotechnology expert at Texas State University who reviews tech fund applications for the Austin regional board, said the ability to appeal would undermine the process.
“If you’ve got a way to go around a review committee,” he said, “why do you have a review committee?”
And the chairman of the state House committee that oversees the tech fund said the “extraordinary” process that awarded the money to Nance’s firm shows that reforms are needed. “This is the most troubling case that I’ve seen come through” on the fund, said Rep.
Bill White has released this statement:
“Rick Perry uses the governor’s office to benefit his friends, his contributors and himself. The only way to end Perry’s abuses is to elect a new governor. In the meantime the appropriate authorities need to investigate the corruption in the governor’s office right away,” said Bill White.
“I demanded last week that Perry disclose all personal and state financial ties with Mr. Nance and Perry refused. Now we see why. This is a bombshell,” said White
White’s campaign released the following video supplement to the press release: