Dan Flynn

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) wants daylight saving time removed in the state.

Flynn filed a bill in November calling for legislators to end daylight saving time, and the public hearing for his bill is Wednesday.

“It was November of last year when we did the fall back, and I’m sitting there changing all of the clocks in my house and in my cars, and I’m … thinking, ‘Why in the world do we do this?’” Flynn said.

The bill, if passed, would mean Texas could opt out of the twice-a-year time change, which the Uniform Time Act of 1966 established. 

In 1966, the Uniform Time Act set nationwide start and end times for daylight saving time — the last Sunday in April and October. Since the act’s implementation, daylight saving time has been moved to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.

The act also allows states not to follow daylight saving. Currently, Hawaii, Arizona and some parts of Indiana do not practice the time change.

Flynn said he has found that removing daylight saving time in the state would not negatively impact farmers or increase energy usage. Additionally, he said mothers have expressed concern about leaving their children at bus stops when it is darker in the mornings because of daylight saving time.

“I think the trouble that [daylight saving time] causes far outweighs any benefits that it could possibly have,” Flynn said.

There is not a clear answer as to whether daylight saving saves energy. According to a recent Dallas Morning news article, a 2008 study in Indiana found residential energy use increased by 1 percent when daylight saving time was implemented statewide. On the other hand, a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Energy found extended daylight saving hours, established in 2007, saved 0.3 percent of the year’s energy.

Engineering junior Rohan Nagar said he thinks daylight saving time is pointless in today’s society and would like to see it abolished nationwide.

“Currently it’s up to the states to decide whether they want to follow daylight saving or not, but I think that causes a lot of confusion, especially if half the states are following day light saving and half aren’t,”
Nagar said.

Martha Habluetzel, a retired postal carrier, organized a gathering at the Capitol on Tuesday against daylight saving time, and she was one of a handful of people to attend and speak with Flynn about his bill. If Texas were to stop using daylight saving time, Habluetzel said she thinks other states in the central time zone and eventually the U.S. as a whole would stop using the measure.

“If Texas [abolishes] daylight saving time … then I think it will be easy for it to be abolished nationally,” Habluetzal said. “[Texas is] so large.”

Engineering junior Oriana Wong said she is tired from losing an hour of sleep on daylight saving.

Nevertheless, Wong said if Texas were to eliminate daylight saving time, there would be confusion, especially for business people working across state lines.

“Just by driving home to their workplace, they would have to remember to change their clocks everyday,“ Wong said.

Flynn said he does not foresee this being a problem.

 “They will be able to adjust to whatever [the time change] is,” Flynn said. “I personally kind of feel like this is what I’m going to call ‘Texas Time.’”

House transparency committee co-chairs and state Reps. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and Dan Flynn, R-Canton, address the media after a meeting on May 12. The committee determined by a 7-1 vote that there are sufficient grounds for UT System Regent Wallace Hall's impeachment. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

After investigating Regent Wallace Hall for more than a year, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations voted 6-1 to issue him an "admonishment and censure" on Monday.

The decision came after the committee met for almost four hours in executive session. One of the committee's co-chairs, state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said Hall is the first regent on a public university governing board to be censured in the state's history.

"It will go with him the rest of his life. I don't know that anyone wants to have that mark on their business record," Flynn said to reporters after the meeting. "I think it sends a strong message."

In June 2013, the committee began investigating Hall, who had filed multiple large records requests to the University, after state legislators accused him of overstepping his authority as regent and working to remove President William Powers Jr.

The committee hired well-known Houston attorney Rusty Hardin as its special counsel and heard testimony from various System and University officials, including Powers and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. Instead of issuing a subpoena, the committee invited Hall to testify. Hall declined and never testified before the committee during the investigation.

In May, the committee determined grounds for Hall’s impeachment exist in a 7-1 vote. While the committee had discussed drafting specific articles of impeachment against Hall following the vote, multiple members suggested issuing a public censure as an alternative at a July meeting.

The censure document, primarily written by state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, finds fault with Hall's “ends-justifies-the-means approach" to investigating issues at the University and the UT System.

“The committee today at length sets out its understanding that Mr. Hall's actions have crossed the line from remaining informed and engaged to violating his regental and fiduciary duties," the document states. "Not only did Mr. Hall’s demands and conduct create a toxic environment on the University of Texas at Austin campus and within the System, but the manner in which that conduct was undertaken was simply not constructive taken as a whole."

The 28-page document also lists and describes some of the committee's findings on Hall's actions, including an incident in which Hall allegedy violated federal student privacy laws. Based on an earlier report from Hardin detailing the alleged violation, the Travis County District Attorney's office opened a criminal investigation into Hall in April.

In a statement, Hall criticized the document and said the state legislature's oversight of the System is "improper interference."

"The committee's findings are based on distortions, untruths, and intentional misrepresentations," Hall said. "Intimidation of non-paid public servants by an 'experimental' committee should not be tolerated by the public, the media, or other Texas officials."

Paul Foster, Board of Regents chairman, addressed his issues with the document in a statement released after the meeting, saying the committee's finding that the board "lost instiutional control" was inaccurate. Foster, who asked Hall to resign in May, also said the System does not believe Hall violated any state law or System rule.

"While I and others may not always concur with the style and methods employed by Regent Wallace Hall, I will affirm that he has always diligently worked to further what he sees as the best interests of the UT System," Foster said.

Gov. Rick Perry, who has expressed his support for Hall throughout the investigation, said he hoped the censure would end the matter in a statement on Monday.

"I hope today closes this ugly chapter and Regent Hall's critics can stop wasting time and start focusing on what's important, ensuring higher education is affordable, accessible and accountable to all Texans," Perry said.

The committee's other co-chair, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, said pursuing Hall’s impeachment is not off the table.

"A vote of censure is not a vote against impeachment,” Alvarado said. “However, we believe our investigation would benefit by taking some formal action at this time.”

After the meeting, Alvarado said new evidence or the district attorney's investigation could prompt the committee to take further action against Hall.

If he were to be impeachmed, Hall would be the first nonelected official in the state's history to face such action. Hall's term expires in February 2017. Both Cigarroa and Powers will leave resign from their positions in Decemeber and June 2015, respectively.

According to the censure document, the committee will maintain "full jurisdiction and continuing oversight" of the System. Alvarado said while the committee will begin looking into to other matters for the first time since its invesitgation in to Hall began, state Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, will be responsible for monitoring issues at the System.

State Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, gave the lone vote against the censure. After the meeting, Perry said he was cautious of the committee micromanaging the UT System. In May, he also voted against grounds for Hall’s impeachment existing. State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, was absent for Monday's meeting.

This article has been updated throughout since its original publication.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Moving forward with its investigation into UT System Regent Wallace Hall, the House Select Committee on Transparency in Stage Agency Operations decided Hall’s attorneys would not be allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the upcoming hearings.

The decision, which came after the committee spent more than 1.5 hours in executive session at its meeting on Monday, was based on advice from special counsel Rusty Hardin. Hardin, who was hired by the committee in late August, explained that no cross-examination should take place since the committee is not trying Hall.

“We intend to make this as absolutely fair as we can to Mr. Hall,” Hardin said. “This is an investigation, not a trial. Our investigation may determine that nothing is to happen after this.”

If the committee decides to proceed with impeachment after the hearings process, articles of impeachment would be presented by Hardin to the Texas House of Representatives. If a majority in the House votes in favor of charging Hall with impeachment, the Senate would conduct a trial in which Hall’s attorneys would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. A two-thirds vote in the Senate would be required to remove Hall.

At the meeting, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton and committee co-chairman, said the committee would be investigating whether Hall left off several state and federal lawsuits on his original application for the regent position, disclosed sensitive student information to the public and overstepped his authority as a regent. The committee began investigating Hall in July after he began filing massive open records requests to the University and state legislators accused him of working with his fellow regents to oust President William Powers Jr.

Allan Van Fleet, one of Hall’s attorneys, criticized the committee’s decision and the way it handled the meeting.

“Today, we heard the committee spend 10 minutes of platitude on transparency and spend two hours in secrecy,” Van Fleet said. “It’s important that the full story come out, not just the limited amount Mr. Hardin may decide is relevant.”

After the meeting, Van Fleet defended his client against the accusations that the committee will investigate, and said Hall’s massive open records requests were not part of a larger plan to get Powers fired.

“[Hall] is not after President Powers,” Van Fleet said. “What he is after is a UT System that is fully transparent [and] that is open to people of Texas. Along the way, if there be legislators, if there be other officers in UT who should have done their job as good as Wallace Hall has been doing his, then the chips will fall as they are.”

Flynn added that the committee would keep its investigation focused on Hall for the time being, though Hall’s attorneys have indicated that they feel the focus should be on documents Hall has obtained from the University.

“We are not investigating the University of Texas at this time,” Flynn said. “However any information that does come out by the committee, it will be disclosed in the spirit of the transparency of this committee.”

If impeached, Hall would be the first executive appointee in the state’s history and third official overall to be removed from office. Hardin noted that cross-examination was allowed in 1917 during the investigation into Gov. James Ferguson, but not in the investigation into Judge O. P. Carillo in 1975.