Visualizing Days of Debate: The Wild Card Issues

Jaws dropped when a female representative said men had been caught looking at pornography on the House floor. And laughter filled the Senate chamber when a senator admitted he’d defend to the death Texans’ right to noodle. When they weren't debating budget cuts, lawmakers considered a wide variety of bills, from shooting feral hogs from helicopters to banning indoor smoking across Texas to criminalizing “inappropriate” touching during airport security searches. While not all these measures passed, the debates sure were interesting. You can find lawmakers’ commentary on the measures by using the interactive below. An overview of the "Visualizing Days of Debate" series can be found here with a brief tutorial on how to interpret the graphs.

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Highlights from the House

May 20, 2011Texas House Gives Smoking Ban Early OK

"15 years ago there were some fake studies that the tobacco industry had paid for. They were not vetted. They hadn't gone through the process, but those fake studies don't even exist anymore. There's not anybody out there saying that second-hand smoke doesn't kill. We know that in the United States of America we lose 400,000 Americans a year from direct smoking. We also know that we lose 53,000 Americans a year from second-hand smoke.," — Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas

May 24, 2011As Drought Intensifies, Texas Ranchers Sell Cattle

"Coming from the desert I personally have a fondness for cactus but I'm sure that not everyone shares my fondness for cactus. But I do think that we should promote water conservation as a public policy," — Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine

May 26, 2011Texas House Women Angry Over "Despicable" Flyers

"Well, I completely agree with you. But, Ms. T, do you think that this has become standard operating procedure by some because of what goes on in this House with the way some of the men have treated some of the women with pornography on the floor of this House? Do you think that is why this is acceptable, Ms. T?" — Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball

May 30, 2011Texas "Pork Choppers" Soon to Be Open for Business, There's More Than One Way to Land a Catfish in Texas

"I want to announce that we have new franchise owners. Pete Gallego has got now the the sun dried snake and lizard across the State. Mr. Representative Elkins got the hand caught catfish. Mr. Miller, he's got the feral hog and coyote franchise across the state. But we still have an opening for the mule deer. Come by my desk and we'll work the deals out. Thank you very much," — Rep. Ken Legler, R-Pasadena

June 9, 2011Amazon Offers Texas Jobs for Tax Breaks, To No Avail

"I filed this bill after the comptroller had already had made the assessment against Amazon, because they have a physical presence here. All that's contained in Senate Bill 1 is an -- it's basically to take and update the statutes of what constitutes physical presence in this state. And it says if you have physical presence, like our retailers who are competing against these companies who are not having to collect the sales tax or are not collecting the sales tax, it puts you on an even playing field with them," — Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton

June 28, 2011Lawmakers Approve Texas Windstorm Insurance Fix

"Every claim file is going to have to be properly documented, we're going to know exactly what is going on with that file, whether the adjustor used acceptable protocol in dealing with the claim, and whether TWIA used acceptable protocol in how they handled the claim. TWIA is also going to have very strict time limits where they are going to have to respond. If TWIA unfairly denies claims or denies coverage, there are going to be severe remedies available against TWIA and for the policy holder, even under this legislation," — Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo

June 29, 2011Lawmakers Call it Quits, Leave Unfinished Business

"It will stop the routine touching of people's private parts, for just merely refusing to do go through a scanner because they don't be irradiated, and they don't want to be viewed naked. And that's the only alternative to most of those people receiving, instead of sending them back to the metal detecter," — Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview

Highlights from the Senate

May 11, 2011Texas "Pork Choppers" Soon to Be Open for Business

"The problem is 2 million feral hogs loose in Texas. It used to be just a problem in urban areas and massive rural areas, now, it's starting to be a problem in rural areas. We're having cases just north of here in urban areas, we're having these hogs come in and tear up backyards and endanger the lives of children," — Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay

May 19, 2011Water Policy in Texas Legislature Rode on One Word, There's More Than One Way to Land a Catfish in Texas

"Noodling, legal in the state of Texas. Now, I personally don't noodle, but I would defend to your death the right to do so," — Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville

May 24, 2011Fed Threat Shuts Down TSA "Groping" Bill in Texas

"There was a time in our history that we stood up to the federal government. And we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans and apparently the 30 members that were with me 20 minutes ago, people have been working against them and now they're pulling down the vote and so I will respectfully pull the bill down ," — Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston

June 28, 2011Lawmakers Approve Texas Windstorm Insurance Fix, Amazon Offers Texas Jobs for Tax Breaks, To No Avail

"I think that this bill lays out in great detail and great transparency going forward what we as a legislature will expect from TWIA in terms of how it operates as a agency or quasi agency and in terms of what we demand in taking care fairly of those coastal residents and so a lot of things brought us here today not just the bad actions of some employees," — Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas