I attended a public hearing this week that featured something that, in the moment, I didn’t consider all that significant. I gave it some thought and have decided that I watched a display of inter-legislative district cooperation.
State Rep. Jeff Leach is a Plano Republican who came to the Texas Environmental Quality Commission public hearing in Farmersville to speak against a proposed concrete batch plant for Farmersville. Leach said he there to represent other members of the region’s legislative delegation, all of whom also opposed the plant application.
Farmersville is actually represented in the House by Justin Holland of Rockwall. Holland wasn’t there. Leach carried his water.
Why is this interesting to me? Because once upon a time I witnessed two legislators go at each other’s throats because one of them thought he needed to intervene on a matter affecting his colleague’s legislative district.
It happened in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas.
One of the legislators there, the late Rep. Al Price, D-Beaumont, was an ardent foe of Lamar University’s hiring practices. He railed constantly against Lamar because, in his mind, it didn’t hire enough African-Americans to fill administrative positions; Price, of course, was an African-American.
Then came his fellow Democratic colleague, Mark Stiles, also of Beaumont, who interceded for Lamar, pushing through some funding legislation that the university thought it needed.
Prices’ reaction? Was he thrilled that his colleague went to bat for Lamar? Oh, heavens no! We went ballistic! He accused Stiles of meddling in affairs that weren’t his concern. He threatened to derail whatever it was that Stiles sought to do on Lamar’s behalf.
I said at the time that Stiles was concerned that LU, which drew students from his legislative district as well as from Price’s, needed the money and that it was a regional concern that transcended legislative boundaries.
He was correct. Price was wrong to react as he did.
I have thought about encounter since visiting briefly Tuesday evening with Jeff Leach and hearing how he would speak for his legislative colleagues regarding an issue that is important to all of them and the constituents they represent.
That’s how it should work.