Tag Archives: Texas House speaker

Texas House speaker is playing a weird game with colleagues

Talk about doing an end-around …

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who’s under fire over a weird conversation he had with a fiery right-wing activist, has squandered the trust of his Republican House colleagues. He could just resign the speakership, but no-o-o. He decided to ask his colleagues to draft a resolution calling for him to quit.

Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, made an emotional speech Friday to his colleagues, apologizing for tossing several of them under the proverbial bus. His colleagues, though, decided against the resolution because House rules — not to mention the Texas Constitution — require them to be in active legislative session to remove a speaker from office.

Good grief, man. Just quit your speakership! At the very least, just announce you won’t seek the speakership for the 2021 Legislature.

Bonnen took part in a meeting in June with Empower Texans guru Michael Quinn Sullivan, who recorded the meeting he had with Bonnen and with former Texas House GOP chair Dustin Burrows of Lubbock. Bonnen offered Sullivan the names of 10 GOP legislators that Empower Texans could target in the 2020 election. He also offered to grant Empower Texans media credentials, which means House floor access to lawmakers.

Bonnen had tried to deny what he said. Then he apologized for saying mean things about his colleagues. Now we have heard the conversation. Sullivan had it right.

The Friday meeting was a tense affair, according to the Texas Tribune. House GOP members have condemned in strong language what Bonnen told Sullivan. They also are angry with Burrows. It is becoming apparent that Bonnen wouldn’t be re-elected as speaker if he decides to seek the office again.

The speaker is seeking to play some kind of weird game of chicken, it seems to me, with his Republican colleagues, several of whom have called for his resignation. He ought to knock it off.

Just submit your resignation or tell your colleagues you won’t run for the Man of the House job next time around.

Right-wing zealot was right about what happened with Speaker Bonnen

I detest the politics of Michael Quinn Sullivan, the head of Empower Texans, the right-wing political action committee that seeks to yank the Texas political structure even farther to the right … if that is even possible.

Still, we now know that what Sullivan said about Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — that the speaker was willing to give up 10 House Republicans while granting a political favor for Empower Texans — was correct.

Sullivan released the full text of a recorded conversation he and Bonnen had earlier this year. Bonnen had denied the contents of what Sullivan had alleged; then he kinda/sorta backed off and apologized to House members he insulted.

As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey reported in his analysis, Bonnen now becomes a potentially vulnerable House speaker: “But that political discussion, as Bonnen calls it, was fraught with underhanded scheming, given Bonnen’s constituents — the other 149 members of the Texas House — everything they need to replace, if that’s what they’d like to do.”

This revelation disappoints me. I had hoped that Bonnen might continue the tradition of moderate leadership set by his immediate predecessor, former GOP state Rep. Joe Straus. Silly me. It now turns out he can be had, as Sullivan’s recording has revealed.

He agreed to give Sullivan the names of 10 Republican lawmakers who Sullivan’s group could target in next year’s election. Empower Texans also would be granted media credentials, giving the PAC access to legislators on the House floor.

If I were a Republican lawmaker — even if my name wasn’t one of those given to Sullivan — I would be, shall we say, really pi**ed off!

Speaker Bonnen appears to have squandered the trust he sought from his GOP caucus in the House.

I won’t predict this will happen, but count me as one Texas resident who wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Texas House finds a new speaker in January 2021.

Will the new speaker be a bulwark?

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen appears set to become the next speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

The Angleton Republican says he has the votes to win the job when the Legislature convenes in January. I’m glad for him. I am not yet willing to say I’m glad for the state, given that I know nothing about him other than what I’ve read in recent days.

My favorite speaker candidate, Republican Four Price of Amarillo, bowed out of the race; three other GOP hopefuls did the same.

They left the field open to Bonnen.

Bonnen has the votes

I have a request of the presumptive speaker: Will you act as a bulwark against some of the Texas Senate’s more reckless impulses, the way the current speaker, Joe Straus, did in 2017?

I hope he does. Indeed, I understand that Bonnen has a bipartisan streak he might be willing to exhibit. One way is to select Democrats to chair House committees.

Bonnen is making some noise that he might stand tall against the likes of, say, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the leader of the Senate. The men have had an occasionally testy relationship. That suits me fine, given my distaste for some of the stunts that Patrick has tried to pull on the Legislature and, therefore, on Texans.

The most notorious stunt, of course, was the 2017 Bathroom Bill that the Senate shoved through at Patrick’s insistence. It got to the House during a special session in the summer of 2017. Speaker Straus dug in. He ensured the death of the bill that would have required individuals to use public rest rooms in accordance with the gender assigned on their birth certificate.

The Bathroom Bill intended to discriminate against transgendered people. Straus was having none of it.

Bonnen says he is an ally of the lame-duck speaker. I hope he remains faithful to Straus’s policy in running the House of Representatives.

The early indications about a Dennis Bonnen speakership look promising.

Don’t let me down — please! — Rep. Bonnen.

There goes my favorite speaker candidate

Well, dadgummit anyway!

Four Price of Amarillo, as fine a legislator as I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, has decided he doesn’t want to be the next speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll acknowledge that Price also is a friend of mine. I’ve known him almost from the day I arrived in the Texas Panhandle way back in January 1995.

He was elected to the Texas House in 2011, succeeding another Republican lawmaker, David Swinford.

I wanted Price to run for speaker after Joe Straus announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to his House seat from San Antonio. I said so a time or three. Then Price decided to go for it.

Now he’s out. He’s thrown his support to Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.

The Texas Tribune reports: On Sunday, … Price announced he was exiting the race, saying he and Bonnen had “had a number of candid and productive conversations about our vision for the future of Texas and how we can work together to make that future as bright as possible.”

If you know Four Price, you get the unmistakable sense that he means precisely what he told the Tribune.

That he is dedicated to the state’s future and wants the best for it.

It happens to be one of the reasons why I wanted him elected speaker of the House when the Legislature convenes in January.

If Four Price is up to remaining in the Legislature, I’m sure he’ll be in the hunt for the speakership at a later date. That, too, would be good for Texas.

Will this young man enter the speaker’s race?

The Texas Tribune has listed five state legislators who either have announced plans to run for Texas House speaker or are interested in joining the fray.

I looked the list over and was expecting to see a name from Amarillo. He wasn’t among the five of them.

So, with that I’ll offer this on-the-record request for state Rep. Four Price, the Republican representative from House District 87: Go for it, young man! Join the field of legislators who want to be the next Man of the House!

Price will see this blog post. He already knows that I have great personal regard for him. I am acknowledging my bias, OK?

Rep. Price brings some political muscle to this contest, were he to run for speaker.

First of all, Texas Monthly rated him among the state’s “Ten Best Legislators” in 2017. TM’s editors like his commitment to mental health issues.

Second of all, Price beat back a challenge from a guy who had some serious financial backing from Empower Texans, the far-right-wing political action group that had targeted a number of incumbent legislators. Price rolled up 79 percent of the vote in the March 6 Republican Party primary race. The way I see it, a victory margin of that size has purchased Price a good bit of political capital that he can spend while campaigning for speaker.

Third of all, Price would give the Texas Panhandle an important — and loud — voice in the Legislature at a time when it is experiencing a diminishing level of clout in Austin. It’s part of the state’s shifting population trend, with Central and North Texas growing at a much more rapid rate than the vast reaches of West Texas.

Price told me some months ago that he was part of current Speaker Joe Straus’s legislative team in the House. He endorsed the leadership that Speaker Straus brought to the lower legislative chamber. It follows, then, that a Speaker Price would follow the lead established by Straus, who’s not running for re-election.

I say all this knowing that this decision rests exclusively with Four Price and his family. Were he to run for speaker and then be selected by his House colleagues, he would be elevated immediately from a part-time citizen-legislator to a full-time political leader — even though the job won’t pay him accordingly.

It’s a sacrifice to run for speaker and to subject oneself to the abuse that goes with the territory.

Still, I hope Four Price goes for it.

Gov. Abbott slams door on Syrian refugees

  Syrian children march in the refugee camp in Jordan.  The number of Children in this camp exceeds 60% of the total number of refugees hence the name "Children's camp". Some of them lost their relatives, but others lost their parents.

Honestly, I have a measure of sympathy for what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared with regard to refugees from Syria.

He has informed President Obama that Texas won’t accept any refugees from the nation they are fleeing. Why? One individual who entered France as a “refugee” reportedly was part of the attack force that terrorized Paris this past week, killing 129 people and injuring hundreds more.

Abbott doesn’t want to take any chances by allowing Syrians into this state. He joins the governors of Alabama and Michigan in banning Syrian refugees.

On the other hand, I believe it is fair to ask: Is this what the United States of America stands for?

An Austin immigration lawyer told the Texas Tribune that Abbott’s order is legal, but questions whether it is right.

“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas,” Abbott wrote to President Obama.

I get that. But aren’t there intense security measures a state such as Texas can take screen all applicants coming here from Syria to ensure that they do not have any ties to the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah … or any sinister terrorist organization?

Here’s more from the Tribune: “House Speaker Joe Straus on Monday took a more nuanced position, saying he agreed with Abbott’s ‘concern’ and that refugees needed “thorough background reviews” in order to be placed in Texas. ‘I share Gov. Abbott’s concern that relocating refugees to Texas without thorough background reviews compromises our security,’ Straus said in an emailed statement. ‘Our highest priority as a state has been and should continue to be the safety of all Texans.’”

Virtually all the refugees coming here are fleeing terror, murder, warfare, mayhem, bloodshed. You name it, they’re seeking to escape that misery. What is to become of them? Do we send them to other states? Do we — as Donald Trump suggests — send them back to the chaos they are fleeing?

We proclaim ourselves to live in the Land of Opportunity. We profess our nation to be a bastion for the dispossessed.

Of course no one wants to create a safe haven for terrorist monsters. What, though, does the world do with those who deserve protection from those who would kill them?

 

Craddick leads text-ban fight

It’s hard for me to believe I am thinking so highly of state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland.

I once exchanged testy letters with him after he engineered the ouster of Pete Laney, D-Hale Center, as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

That was then. The now has revealed that Craddick is emerging as a good-government Republican. Evidence of that is House Bill 80, which today passed the state House, and brings the state a big step closer to banning the act of sending text messages while driving a motor vehicle.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/25/texas-house-texting-while-driving/

Craddick is on the side of the angels in this fight. Good for him. Good for the Texas House in approving the legislation.

HB 80 resembles a bill approved by the Legislature in 2011, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry, who called it an attempt to “micromanage” Texans’ behavior.

Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t yet weighed in on HB 80, but my sincere hope is that he signs it.

Texas is among a handful of states, six of them, that haven’t approved a statewide texting-ban law. Several cities within the state — such as Amarillo — have enacted ordinances banning the insanely stupid idea of texting while driving.

The state needs to stand up for those who are threatened by the nimrods who cannot grasp the danger involved in operating a texting device while driving a 2-ton — or heavier — motor vehicle.

Craddick has been at the forefront of this important legislation.

I congratulate the former speaker for his guts on this issue.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Approve the bill, send it to Gov. Abbott’s desk, and then demand he sign it into law.

 

Revolving door keeps spinning in Austin

The late comic genius George Carlin used to poke fun at words — for example, taking note of particularly amusing oxymorons.

“Military intelligence,” “jumbo shrimp” … that kind of thing.

“Government ethics”?

I know, it’s a tired cliché at times to make light of what some in government think of as ethical conduct. But here’s yet another example of why ethical reform needs government’s attention — but it’s not likely to get off the ground.

Former state Rep. John Davis, a Houston Republican, has just registered as a lobbyist immediately after ending his tenure in the Texas House of Representatives.

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/texas-politics/2015/02/ex-houston-state-lawmaker-becomes-lobbyist/

Why is that so bad? Simple. He’s now able to parlay his myriad connections within state government to fatten his own wallet and help the clients on whose behalf he is lobbying.

Davis is going to lobby for a Tomball-based residential contracting firm that works closely with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Is that fair, say, for other contractors who might want to get in on the action provided by a state agency? Does former Rep. Davis have some inside knowledge that others might not be able to obtain as readily?

You figure it out.

Davis is doing not a single illegal thing here. He’s just taking advantage of a gigantic loophole in the state’s ethics-in-government code.

It stinks.

It’s also a tradition in Texas politics and government for lawmakers to move smoothly and seamlessly from legislating to lobbying. Former House Speaker Pete Laney, a Hale Center Democrat, did it when he left the House just a few years ago.

Two state legislators, both Republicans — Rep. Angie Chen Button of Garland and Sen. Van Taylor of Plano — have proposed putting a four-year waiting period on the time former lawmakers can register as lobbyists. Davis, according to the San Antonio Express-News, opposes the legislation. Imagine that.

Do you think they’ll find other opponents among their fellow legislators who might want to jump on that lobbyist gravy train once their days as public servants have ended?

Government ethics? Add it to that dubious list of nonsensical terms.

 

Beck's barbs won't unseat Straus

How cool is this? Glenn Beck, the radio gasbag, has weighed in with a commentary on whether Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, should be re-elected speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

He calls Straus a “RINO, a Republican in Name Only.” He said Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, should be the next House speaker because, according to the Beckster, he’s the real deal.

http://www.texastribune.org/2014/12/08/turner-and-beck-throws-barbs-straus/

I believe young Glenn ought to go back to pontificating about matters of which he is an expert, such as whether Earth’s climate is changing or whether the president of the United States “hates white people.”

Joe Straus is a mainstream Republican who, I reckon, doesn’t quite conform with how some people think Texas Republicans ought to act or say.

One doesn’t hear him vowing to sue Barack Obama for doing what the Constitution allows him to do. One does not hear Straus say that the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing to happen to this country since the Civil War.

No. All the speaker has done to incur the wrath of TEA party conservatives and loquacious radio talk-show hosts is worth with Democrats and seek to craft legislation that benefits the state. Why, they just can’t stand that kind of thing.

Turner won’t unseat Straus, who’s reportedly gathered enough pledges of support to guarantee his re-election as speaker.

Once the speaker retains the gavel, perhaps Turner will return to the back bench of the House chamber and represent his Metroplex constituents to the best of his ability.

As for Beck, stick to tossing out half-truths and outright lies about Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.