Recently, I wrote about legislation that THSC pushed during the 2017 legislative session to protect families from lawsuit abuse in the family courts. Unfortunately, those bills stalled in the Calendars Committee of the Texas House during the last session. We know why. Speaker Joe Straus is well known for appointing liberal legislators to his committees to stall conservative legislation.
Also, THSC’s legislation to allow homeschool students access to public school extracurricular activities — just like 34 other states — suffered a similar fate in the House Public Education Committee.
The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful positions in Texas Government precisely because he appoints the committee chairmen and has the ability to kill legislation by fiat. In fact, Straus seemed to take pride this last session in thwarting the conservative agenda presented by Governor Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Professor Mark Jones of Rice University in Houston recently said, “With Speaker Straus’ departure, the next speaker of the Texas House who assumes office in January of 2019 will be much more conservative, and much more in line politically with Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.”
As many are aware, Straus was elected by all the Democratic members of the Texas House and 11 Republicans, which is why Texas Democrats have done so well and conservative Republicans have not over the last ten years.
Conservatives know that in order to have a Speaker of the Texas House who supports the agenda of Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick, the speaker must be chosen by the Republican majority not the minority Democrats. Indeed, that was the goal of the recent Republican Caucus meeting of the Texas House Republicans. Now, the by-laws change that was adopted unanimously by the 83 members who were present requires a 60 percent vote for the group to nominate a member for the vote on the House floor. That is indeed a step in the right direction but it is not the final victory we are pushing for.
The moderate element of the Republican House members much prefer to work with Democrats and elect a Speaker along the lines of Straus than to work with their fellow Republicans. Why? They know that doing so will result in a more conservative Speaker, as Dr. Jones predicted.
The key is for Republican primary voters to demand a commitment from their candidate to vote for the winner of the Republican Caucus vote. A failure to make that commitment means that supporting the Democrat’s choice of Republican Speaker over the Republican’s choice. It is time that Republicans who have a near super-majority in the Texas House choose the Speaker rather than the minority Democrats.
Check the Republican Party of Texas website for a list of candidates who have made the commitment to have Republicans choose the next speaker and refuse to support those who will not make this pledge. This is how we join together continuing our mission Keeping Texas Families Free.