After a group of Republican Activists in Bexar County announced plans to formally censure liberal Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, his establishment backers are now running scared and abusing parliamentary rules to block the resolution. This indicate that Straus and his political advisors are afraid that conservatives have enough votes in the county to adopt the censure resolution.
Last week a group of Bexar County precinct chairs announced plans to pass a resolution under Rule 44 of the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas to censure Straus. This move follows a vote of no confidence taken by the Bexar County Executive Committee during the recent special session. If passed and ratified by the State Republican Executive Committee or delegates to the 2018 GOP State Convention, the censure resolution could result in the Republican Party imposing penalties on Straus.
In response on Friday, Bexar County GOP Chairman Robert Stovall, a Straus lackey, sent a “special message” to the precinct chairs in the county informing them that he is appointing a “special committee on resolutions” stacked with Straus supporters in order to kill the anti-Straus Rule 44 resolution.
While Stovall is within his rights to appoint the committee, it is the additional requirements on resolutions that he is attempting to impose by executive fiat that violate the basic fundamentals of parliamentary procedure.
In addition to establishing the committee, Stovall included the following provisions at the tail end of his email:
Presentation of Resolutions
All resolutions must be typed. A resolution, when initially submitted, must fit on a single 8 ½” x 11″ page. A resolution shall contain no more than three “inducement” or “whereas” clauses and no more than two “resolve” clauses, and shall be no longer than 400 words.
Form of Resolutions
All resolutions must be statements of principles.
Resolutions should generally not reference specific bill numbers or legislation. A resolution that references specific legislation will normally be returned to the sponsor contact to be rewritten as a statement of principle.
It shall not be in order to consider a resolution which has either not been previously considered by the Resolutions Committee, or has been considered by the Resolutions Committee and failed of adoption.
No resolution shall call for a change in the RPBC Bylaws; nor state the endorsement of, support of a candidate for public office, nor opposition to a candidate who is a Republican; nor mandate or restrict the spending of money by the RPBC.
Stovall has no authority whatsoever to rule resolutions that have not been moved through his handpicked committee out-of-order. Indeed, if he attempts to block the precinct chairs from bringing their resolution, he may find himself intimately familiar with the provisions of the Election Code allowing for enforcement of election-related matters through writs of mandamus.
Furthermore, Stovall’s requirement that all resolutions be “statements of principles,” that they be less than a page, and that they not reference legislation or Republican candidates flies directly in the face of Rule 44 itself, which specifically enables Republican Party members to pursue the censure of Republican officials – like Straus – when they work directly against the interests of the party.
The entire point of Rule 44 is to allow the Republican rank-and-file to use party rules to hold elected officials accountable when they work against the party’s principles. But ignoring the rules and trampling the rights of members is precisely why this battle is being fought in the first place.
Members in a representative body, be it the Texas House or the Bexar County Republican Party Executive Committee, have a fundamental and equal right to make motions, debate them, and have them voted upon by their colleagues. By abusing their power, Straus and Stovall have shown they favor themselves tyrants, instead of leaders.
It is ironic that Stovall and the liberal Republican establishment in Bexar County are attempting to abuse parliamentary procedure and stomp on the rights of precinct chairs in order to block a resolution regarding how Straus has done the exact same thing in the Texas House. The fact that this is the corrupt establishment’s default tactic shows exactly why it is so important that Straus’s abuse of authority be repudiated.