The Texas Leadership Award from the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life was recently given to Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House.

Straus praised for taking debate off the House floor.

Straus praised for taking debate off the House floor.

At the award event on Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry said: “I look forward to many years of your leadership, in the Legislature and beyond.” Let’s just hope that such talk was only the polite chatter you usually get at such events. The last thing those interested in reversing the trend of bigger government need is more of Joe Straus at any level.

More concerning however, were the comments of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at the event. Dewhurst said: “Straus had made a positive change after taking the House reins from former Speaker Tom Craddick,” reported Texas Politics.

“Since 2009, the bloodsport previously called debating on the floor of the House of Representatives has dramatically subsided,” said Dewhurst, who called Straus a “good and decent man” who has restored decorum to the Texas House according to the report.

Dewhurst praises Straus for less debate on the House floor.

Dewhurst praises Straus for less debate on the House floor.

Many of the shallow will think the statement indicates good but only because of their ignorance of how our Republic and State are supposed to function. What Dewhurst is saying is that Straus has done what most insiders like: He’s pushed debate of our issues, laws, and topics off the public stage where it gets messy, uncomfortable, and where the elected have to take very public, on-the-record positions.

What a dumb thing to publicly praise – that debate on the House floor, bloodsport or not, has greatly lessened. The entire purpose of the body is to debate, in the open before the people, the merits of policy.

Straus has indeed used his committee henchmen to silence debate, as do many Speakers, but this is not a good thing to anyone who respects our form of government.

Shame on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for praising such; and greater shame on Speaker Joe Straus for creating such an out-of-sight, back-room environment.

Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt has been active in Texas Republican politics since the Reagan re-elect in 1984. He has served as Lubbock County Republican chairman, and in 2006 founded the Pratt on Texas radio network, providing the news and commentary of Texas on both radio and podcast. Learn more at


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