During the race for Speaker between Joe Straus and Scott Turner, conservative members who supported Straus teetered between claiming that Straus’ record was already a conservative one and claiming that, despite past failings, Straus’s decisions during the 84th session would somehow be different.

Now that committee assignments have been made, it is again clear that Straus is no friend of conservatives, and that he has no intention of doing anything different than he has in the past. Straus appears prepared to follow through on threats made by his surrogates during the Speaker’s race to kill conservative reforms, and advance a progressive agenda.

Straus’s appointees to the most powerful committees in the House – the gate-keeping Calendars Committee and the Committee on State Affairs – nearly mirror his appointments in 2013. Conservatives are again blocked entirely from those powerful committees while Democrats and liberal Republicans in Straus’s inner-circle are given control over what bills they will allow to come before their colleagues.

Likewise, those committees dealing in the most important subject matters of state government – Public Education, Public Health, Higher Education, and Transportation – are dominated by Democrats and liberal-leaning Republicans.

A few more-conservative members were sprinkled into the mix on Appropriations, but they are outnumbered by at least two-to-one by Democrats. It seems inevitable that their positions will be even further degraded when Appropriations subcommittees are announced.

Veteran Democrat Rep. Senfronia Thompson is again the Chair of Local and Consent Calendars. In praising Straus, the leftist Democrat blog Burnt Orange Report related that her appointment meant Straus had made her “Queen of Everything.”

Straus’s appointments to the Redistricting Committee may be the most telling of all. Texas remains under threat of having our legislative districts redrawn by a federal court due to the gross incompetence of the map drawers employed by Straus in 2011. Despite this threat, Straus split the eleven member committee down the middle, with five Democrats and six Republicans. However, he put recent party switcher, Republican J.M. Lozano, in charge of the committee. Just two sessions ago, Lozano was serving in the legislature as a Democrat. Straus appointed another former Democrat, Rep. Todd Hunter, to serve on the committee as well.

When committee assignments came down, the establishment political media crowed about how Straus-supporting conservatives had been given better assignments than the “Turner 19.” However none of them were elevated to the upper echelons of power in the Straus regime. What’s more, they appear to be set-up to sacrifice themselves on Straus’s behalf in the war Straus is preparing to wage on conservative reforms coming from the Texas Senate.

It has been made clear again, as it has been repeatedly over the last six years, that Joe Straus is not interested in rapprochement with conservatives. Straus and his allies will always side with the liberal Democrats over those members who faithfully represent the strong conservative will of Texans. The only option available to Texans who want to see their will represented in Texas government is to remove those members who lack the principles or backbone necessary to serve their constituents. Texans must elect new representatives who are willing to seize power from the Democrats and liberal Republicans who have usurped it, and return it to the people.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.


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