When confronted by the Texas Senate about their unconstitutional power grab, the state’s Racing Commission doubled down on arrogance.

Last year, the racing commission passed a rule vastly expanding the footprint of gambling beyond their constitutional and statutory boundaries. They thumbed their noses at members of the House and Senate noting that they were taking actions reserved, constitutionally, to the Legislature and the citizens of Texas.

Fast-forward to January when Senate Finace Committee Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) introduced her chamber’s draft budget. It was notable for zeroing out the racing commission. Appearing before her committee yesterday, the commission chairman doubled down on arrogance.

According to media report, Racing Commission Chairman Robert Schmidt, an orthopedic surgeon from Aledo, told Nelson’s committee that he assumed they were just misinformed when ignoring the letters senators sent decrying the move.

“When you received that letter and ignored it, I was livid,” the Texas Tribune reports that Nelson told Schmidt.

Schmidt’s testimony did his rogue agency no favors, with Nelson saying: “Right now your budget is zero, and I’ve had nothing here today that’s convinced me that it needs to change.”

The San Antonio Express-News added this quote from Sen. Nelson: “This isn’t about gambling to me. It’s not about horse racing to me. It is about an agency that has gone rogue, in my opinion. If an agency doesn’t respect the difference between making laws and following laws, we’ve got big problems on our hands.”

Might be — should be — dawning on Schmidt and his cronies today that they made a really bad bet. And might be a lesson to other agencies overstepping their power.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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