House Speaker Joe Straus’ refusal to answer questions during the special session continued on Friday with Lewisville Republican Ron Simmons, the latest member of the Texas House to be frustrated in his pursuit of straight answers to simple questions.
Simmons went to the back microphone in the House at the start of Friday’s session with a simple question regarding what day was the last day to vote on House Bills on second reading. Straus refused to give a straight answer, saying only that “hypothetically” the bills could be passed on the last day of the special session.
The answer to Simmons’ question is pretty simple. Given the requirement that bills be read on three separate days, in order to allow time for the bills to pass the Senate, House bills probably need to be addressed on second reading by Sunday at the latest. Any later vote would require one or more four-fifths votes to suspend the constitutional three-day rule.
Straus has refused to give any substantive answers to inquiries in recent weeks. On Wednesday, he was peppered with questions from State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) regarding what the members could do to force State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) to deliver documents related to a pro-life bill from his committee to the committee coordinators. Cook’s committee voted for the bill more than two weeks ago, but Cook and his committee clerk have since refused to walk the committee’s report over to the coordinator’s office so that it can move forward in the legislative process. Straus repeatedly refused to answer questions related to that obstruction and would only tell Stickland to talk to Cook about the matter.
Straus’ obstruction of Gov. Abbott’s conservative agenda is a house of cards and a very shaky one at that. He is afraid to answer simple questions about House processes or procedures that might be used to wrest control of the floor agenda from him and his cronies.
Texans deserve legislative leadership who aren’t afraid of their own shadow. It is long past time for Straus to be removed from his office and the rights of House members to represent their constituents restored.