That’s my takeaway from the vote taken today by the Texas House after reading the “reports” about the underhanded way in which Speaker Joe Straus handled the passage of the resolution on rules the House will follow this session. Really? Speaker Straus is being “underhanded” on a rules resolution?
Yeah, go ahead and laugh, I know, I know. But seriously, this is what anti-Straus Rep. Jonathan Stickland put out this morning about HR4:
Yesterday House Resolution 4 was filed at 8:51am regarding proposed house rule changes for the 84th legislature. We cannot find any example in Texas history where a legislature has been expected to vote on adopting the house rules with such short notice. This looks to be the earliest it has been brought up in a session, and the shortest amount of time a proposed resolution has been available to the members of the legislature. With the Governor’s farewell speech looming over house at 2pm, and with the house floor already set up with chairs in the center aisle for the day’s festivities, it is ridiculous that we should be expected to discuss and debate such an important aspect of the session under these circumstances. We reached out to house leadership and the author of HR4 last night, and requested a postponement of the resolution in order to insure that every member has had ample time to review and understand all implications of the new house rules. I have not received any valid explanation why this must be done today. As of now, they have not agreed to postpone. This Tuesday, I heard in many speeches from house leadership that it was important for Austin not to operate like Washington DC. The bulldog tactics currently being used to ram this resolution through the process, is exactly what one would see from a Nancy Pelosi lead body in our nation’s capitol. As a member elected to represent the constituents of House District 92, I expect that our abilities as representatives would be valued and respected, and that we be given enough time to make wise decisions on such important matters with statewide implications. I call for the postponement of this resolution immediately.
Paragraphs are your friend, Rep. Stickland.
That started tongues wagging in the anti-Straus crowd. Here are a few examples:
- We need to pass this to know what’s in it. Sound familiar?
- We have to approve the rules to find out what is in them?
- Straus expecting representatives to vote before they’ve had a chance to read and contemplate the implications?
- “Deja vu all over again.” Mr. Straus et al have caught the DCE (DC Establishment) virus.
- As soon as I heard that Straus was re-appointed as speaker by such a huge margin I got the feeling we were in for some trouble.
Too bad these people didn’t take the time to check the facts. Here are the facts about HR4.
- Each member was invited to TWO meetings discussing the rules and changes.
- The House Research Organization produced a three and a half page summary of the changes. Each member received a copy of the HRO report.
- Nineteen House members were prepared enough for the vote as to offer up amendments to HR4, including Rep. Stickland.
- The amended version of HR4 passed 139-0.
It took me less than five minutes to read the three and a half pages of changes provided by the HRO. Click here and see how long it takes you.
Did Rep. Stickland attend the meetings about the rules? If so, what is his beef? If not, perhaps the voters in his district need to ask him how dedicated to the job he is.
Twenty four hours is plenty of time to prepare for a vote on a resolution with such minor changes. Oh wait, according to Empower Texans, the perennial Astroturf anti-Straus website, the changes create an “Orwellian” committee! Seems like twenty four hours was plenty of time for one of their lackeys to write that post.
All the noise, all the blustering, and what do we end up with?
HR4 passed 139-0.
Think about that the next time you see one of the anti-Straus folks ranting on Facebook or Twitter.
This comes in from a reader:
During the rules debate Strickland acknowledged he did not attend the working group meetings but did visit with John Smithee on a number of occasions about the rules.
In other words, Rep. Stickland is just bloviating for the sake of bloviating.
David M. Wilson says
So, David, what should the minimum time be? 12 hours, 8 hours, 4 hours? I don’t like rushed legislation in Washington, Austin or Houston. I was glad to see the conservative members of the House object and put the Speaker on notice that things like that will not be tolerated. And to your point, the system worked. God bless Texas and continue to pray for our legislators.
Jeff Larson says
David, the five minutes spent reading that summary is only the start of the research needed to cast an informed vote on this measure. First, what is the actual text of HR4? Was it available for the two pre-meetings, or were there some last minute changes before it was dumped on the house 24 hours and 8 minutes before a vote?
Now, the summary. Does it give sufficient, accurate information to allow an informed vote? I just read it, and I think you’d be a fool to base your vote on it. This is reminiscent of the ballot language used for state proposals. Sometimes it accurately reflects to the voter the measures to be voted on, other times not so much.
Legislation is not straightforward. Writing or re-writing rules is like walking through a minefield, there are all sorts of “gotcha’s” or unforeseen circumstances out there that could be very negative. Just yesterday at the RNC meeting, they ran into that. Remember the change from a plurality of 5 states to a majority of 8 states being needed to nominate a candidate for President? The rule has been in place since the 2012 convention, but WHOOPS! They learned just yesterday it may lead to a situation where it is mathematically impossible to nominate a candidate for President.
Stickland is notorious for having study sessions on the text of proposed bills that last past midnight. We claim to be conservatives when we complain that 2700 page legislation isn’t read before being voted on in Washington. Why don’t we just give legislators a day or so to work through legislation when they say they need it? We are saying one thing, and then doing another.
GIveMe ABreak says
I didn’t notice the Empower Texans crowd whining about Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Kevin Eltife giving the Senate a mere 90 minutes to review the drastic changes to the Senate rules.