from the Texas Tribune
by Elise Hu
State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said in a press release he’s withdrawing his pledge to support Speaker Joe Straus in the coming session, claiming Team Straus is “using the redistricting process as retribution.”
In his release, Hughes detailed a conversation with an undisclosed member of the speaker’s leadership team, in which the lieutenant told him redistricting maps were already being drawn “to punish members not on Straus’ list of supporters.”
More specifically, this member told me that maps were already being drawn to get rid of Representative-Elect Erwin Cain (R-Sulphur Springs) and Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van), because they were not on the Speaker’s list of supporters.
I was then told that I had nothing to worry about in redistricting, so long as I stayed on the Speaker’s list.
This conversation first saddened and then disgusted me.
Using the redistricting process for retribution reminds us of all that is wrong with politics. The Speaker’s race should be decided not based on threats of punishment and not on promises of power, but on principle. Continue reading →
TIME TO BRING THE TEA PARTY HOME TO THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE
In March of 2009, I sat all day at the meeting on the Texas Stimulus Fund committee meeting in San Antonio, which was billed as “Public Testimony” on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Unfortunately, the Chairman, Representative Jim Dunnam, a Democrat, called city, county and public institution employees to the mike until 4 PM, all before hearing a single private citizen. Not one of our local Republican Senators or Republicans attended the meeting and Representative Dunnam left the Committee under the control of his Vice-Chair in order to make it home in time for his daughter’s Debutante party.
In 2003, first the House Democrats ran away to Oklahoma and then the Senate Democrats were spirited away to Albuquerque, New Mexico in order to deprive the Republicans a quorum capable to deliberate Redistricting. Continue reading →
by Matt Stiles, The Texas Tribune
Mark Jones, political science chair at Rice University, has released another interesting analysis of partisan behavior inside the Texas House — this time measuring the Democrats’ “stealth influence” during the 2009 legislative session.
Using the liberal-conservative score, Jones recently ranked House members’ ideology based on their voting activity. He builds on that work in a new report focusing on “partisan agenda control.” That term describes a general effort by legislative leaders at levels to limit votes on issues that are opposed by a majority of their parties’ caucuses. (They also of course seek votes on issues supported by their members).
Jones measures this phenomenon by examining data on parties getting “rolled,” a term used to describe instances in which a party majority loses a final passage vote, or “FPV.” Typically, the majority party has a much lower “roll rate” because its members are in control of the agenda, while the minority party roll rate is higher because of its relative lack of influence. Continue reading →
House Speaker 101
by Matt Stiles
A popular perception of the Texas House of Representatives in 2003 and in 2009 sees the two legislative sessions as very similar because during each there existed a Republican majority and a Republican speaker. Here I present a different vision suggesting that, in important respects, the 2009 House was very distinct from the 2003 House, with the Democratic House leadership playing a much more prominent role in 2009 than at any time since the party lost its majority status in 2003.
One of the principal ways political scientists evaluate the level of partisan agenda control exercised by the leadership in a legislature is by examining the degree to which a party is “rolled” during the final voting stage of the legislative process (commonly referred to as final passage votes or FPVs). A party is rolled when the majority of its representatives are on the losing side of an FPV.
In a partisan legislature, the speaker and his/her leadership team commonly try to keep bills opposed by the majority of their party from reaching the floor (negative agenda control) while at the same drafting legislation in such a way that it is preferred by a majority of their delegation’s members (positive agenda control). As a result, we generally expect the majority party in partisan legislatures to have a relatively low roll rate, while the minority party (whose leadership tends to lack much in the way of influence over the agenda) normally will have a higher roll rate.
By polling, an overwhelming majority of Texans have supported – and continue to support – this pro-family, pro-business, and pro-growth agenda. The only unfortunate part of this healthy growth is that it has been largely partisan – that is, this positive agenda has not been championed by Texas Democrat legislators but rather by Republicans. Given the wide public backing, these highly supported measures should have been the focus of both parties, not just one.