Thursday, January 15, 2009

Texas House and Senate Switch Roles

Well it’s official. Partisanship again will be the rule and not the exception in the 81st Texas Legislature. Now you would have thought that the Republican lunkheads in the Senate might have paid attention to the voting trends from last November elections. Even here in Red Texas Democrats made inroads in nearly every county except for that pocket way up there in the northeast – the tail end of what I have come to call America’s “Cracker Belt.” But yesterday the Texas Senate ensured a continuation of the political angst that so defined the 80th Legislature.

Senate Republicans voted to do away with the 2/3rds rule. The rule that allows bills to come to the Senate floor for debate only after an aye vote from 21 of the 31 Senators. The rule was a good one that kept disorder, that was so prevalent in the Texas House in the last session, from intruding in the Senate. From The Chron:

“The so-called two-thirds rule is designed to foster consensus on issues, as opposed to the Texas House, where the party in control can pass bills without support from the minority party.”

But now, with near parity in the House, Republicans may well find that they have to play nice with House Democrats rather than ram through divisive partisan legislation, as they did in 2007. Legislation that then died in the Senate because of the two-thirds rule.

The one lone Republican hold-out in the Senate, Senator John Carona of Dallas, explained his “no” vote, that it “sends a terrible message” to the voters in light of what has happened in the House, and how voters are crying out for a bipartisan legislature.

Carona, it should be noted, is from Dallas which flipped in its demographics in the past few years, and these days send only Democrats to positions in government. Indeed, Carona was re-elected to his seat by a comfortable 64% to 34% in 2002, but that lead shrunk to 56% to 41% in 2008. At that rate, Democrats should be at parity in SD 16 by 2014.

So the Texas House and Senate have switched roles. Now we will have a bipartisan spirit in the House reject the uber-partisanship of the new Texas minority – the Bible belt neocons, and a newly polarized right wing Senate that will lead the way to the vile agenda of the Dark Side.

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