THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE. by Loren Miller. Points to Ponder. In 1965, a member of the Texas House submitted a resolution commending Albert DeSalvo for his efforts in population control. No one checked to see who Mr. DeSalvo was. It passed.
by Loren Miller
Rep. “Mad Dog” Mengden (from Houston) began a speech about sex education thusly: “This is the way I see the problem, if there is a problem, which I deny.”
This year his legislative program includes prison reform—he wants female convicts to be more ladylike.
On environmental legislation, Rep. Billy Williamson (whose district included an asbestos plant) stated: “I think we are all willing to have alittle bit of crud in our lungs and a full stomach rather than a whole lot of clean are and nothing to eat. And I don’t want a bunch of environmentalists and Communists telling me what’s good for me and my family.”
former State Senator
Texas Democrats are more conservative than Democratic.
Democratic presidential candidates have been viewed by many Texans as being “too liberal.”
Bedroom communities of major Texas cities have attracted white collar industries whose workers tend to be Republican.
Blacks and Hispanics, who tend to be Democrats, do not turn out to vote to the same extent as Anglos.
Impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The labor force today is 64 percent Anglo and 22 percent Hispanic. By 2030 it will be 45 percent Hispanic and 37 percent Anglo.
The average household income for 2000 was $45,736. In 2030 it will be $42,620.
In the past, Republicans have based winning at least 2/3’s of the Anglo vote, 1/3 of the Hispanic vote, and 1/10 of the Black vote
With the rapid growth of the Hispanic population, Texas may become a competitive two-party state.
He vowed to veto the DREAM Act which would
make non-citizens who serve in the military
eligible for citizenship.
He favored a system of self-deportation, a policy
that involves making economic conditions so
difficult for undocumented workers that they choose
to leave the country. If they want to return, they
would then get in the “back of the line.”
Requires that state law enforcement officials attempt
to determine an individual’s immigration status during a
“lawful stop, detention, or arrest” or during a “lawful contact”
not specific to any activity.
44% for Bush (2004)
31% for McCain (2008)
27% for Romney (2012)
Bureau of the Census, 2011
“The future of Texas is tied to its minority populations. How well they do is how well Texas will do.”
Steve Murdock, demographer,
Texas A&M University
The Texas Legislature is a bicameral body:
-- 31 members of the Texas Senate
-- 150 members of the Texas House
-- all are elected from single-member districts
The people do not select their representatives; the representatives select their people.
Named after Elbridge Gerry, one of our founding fathers.
Colbert Report, Gerrymandering
Ohio lost two House seats so Republicans paired two Democrats who live over 120 miles apart
Create a majority Democratic district that encompasses the major media markets in the state so that the representative becomes well known enough to run for the Senate.
Cracking Franklin County (Urban/Liberal) to create a majority Republican district
College towns (Democratic) are packed.
Packing to create a majority Hispanic district and also save two Black representatives
Cracking Salt Lake City to create a majority Republican district
Republicans packed as many minorities and Democratic voters into this downtown Detroit district
Cracking of Travis County into Five Districts
The 23rd District violates the Voting Rights Act because it discriminated against Hispanics.
“Along with bar rooms and bordellos, there has not been a more male-dominated institution . . . than the Texas legislature. These three worlds have a lot in common, such as liquor, tobacco, money, fist fights, and, of course, politics. They are also arenas of male dominion and social bonding.”
Nancy Baker Jones, historian
“They really meant two days every 140 years!”
Introduction of Bills (1 – 60)
140 Day Session
Odd Numbered Years (only 4 states have biennial sessions)
If a disputed bill passes at all,
when will it pass?
Role of Lobbyists
Filing Deadline is 90 days
80% of the votes come in the last two weeks
140 Day Session
Odd Numbered Years
Rep. Bob Bullock described the thoughtful process by which he came to vote Yea or Nay on many a bill.
“I’d be settin’ there of a mornin’, hung over as hell, probably been to some lobby party the night before, and a friend would stop by my desk and ask, ‘Ya heard about of’ Joe’s bill?”
“I never wanted to let on that I knew no more about ol’ Joe’s bill than I do about quantum physics, so I’d nod, lookin’ as wise as a treefuol of owls, and he’d say, ‘Bad bill, bad bill.’ and I’d nod some more.
“Two minutes later, some freshman’d come by and ask me what I thought of ol’ Joe’s bill. I’d say ‘Bad bill, bad bill.’ And the two of us would vote against it without ever knowin’ what was in it.”
If you ask the question, “Whose bill is it?” what you mean is, which lobby wrote it. If you want to know which legislator is sponsoring the bill, you ask, “Who’s carrying the bill?
Shows the influence of Lobbyists
“If you meet only occasionally, get paid little, and have weak staffs, you are at the disposal of the lobby because you have to go to them for information.”
Note: while the powers of the Lieutenant Governor are similar to those of the Speaker, they can be modified which means that the Lieutenant Governor must appease powerful senators
The Legislative Process
Health and Human Services
The Calendar Committee
Committees to Floor
Controlled by the Speaker
To The Senate
“The two-thirds rule protects the conservatives from wacky liberal bills, and it protects the liberals from wacky conservative bills.”
“It imposes adult behavior on people who might be otherwise inclined.”
Jeff Wentworth, State Senator R., San Antonio
Kel Seliger, State Senator, R., Amarillo
A New Bill
Texas State Comptroller, 2007
Texas House ranged from 7% to 51%
(29% in 2012)
Texas Senate ranged from 3% to 45%
(16% in 2012)
Compare to Congress
With high turnover the new members are learning the rules and finding their way. The allows the few “old timers” to control the legislative process.
“For state government to work, three people have to work together, and they have to work well together—the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker.”
Pete Gallego, state representative, D., Alpine
Power of Lt. Governor
“A speaker who uses the office fully can virtually determine what does and what does not become law in Texas.”
Ben Barnes, former speaker of the Texas House
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”