Far behind the Texas Senate, which passed major legislation including ethics reform and banning sanctuary cities, the Texas House has finally released committee assignments so that members can get to work.
As the leader of a Democrat-coalition, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) took longer to name committee assignments this session than ever before, including the year in which he seized power by using Democrat votes to overthrow Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick (Midland).
By dragging his feet, Straus wasted a large number of days that could have been used to begin vetting legislation and moving it through the process.
The Texas Senate did the opposite.
In contrast to Straus, conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made his committee assignments on January 18th, a full three weeks earlier. While that number is staggering enough on its own it is even more staggering when considered in context of the 140 day legislative session.
True to the predictions of his Democrat surrogates, Straus’ “Operation Slowdown” puts the Texas House far behind the Texas Senate which has already conducted hearings on a number of issues and passed priority legislation.
But Straus may not have even wanted to release the assignments today. He may have been forced to.
Sources in the Capitol say that many Republican members were frustrated at the ramifications the delay was having inside the chamber, especially after the events of yesterday in which the Texas House violated the Texas Constitution by failing to determine a sufficient balance or “floor” for the Economic Stabilization Fund.
Such a failure could have been avoided had committee assignments been made and could explain the decision by Straus to announce the assignments on the floor during the session rather than by press release once members are already out of Austin.
Now that lawmakers have been assigned to committees conservatives can begin watching the proceedings and demanding that action be taken on their priorities rather than those of legislators. Already the Texas Senate has sent major legislation to raise the ethical standards of elected officials and make Texans safer by ending sanctuary cities.
Conservatives will be able to quickly discover how much House leadership is interested in addressing those issues by how quickly they move…or don’t.