Fellow Grassroots Texans:
The House Republicans have pulled out all the stops to reassure conservative Texans that the Texas House would no longer be the place where solid conservative legislation dies in committee–or at the hands of left-wing delaying tactics. They’ve spent a great deal of time and money to reassure Texans that this 2011 session would generate the conservative legislation Texans demand:
“With 101 elected Republican House members and strong leadership from Speaker Straus, Republicans are committed to:
Reducing state government spending;
Balancing the budget without raising taxes;
Strengthening border security;
Passing a real Photo ID bill.”
Will the House Republicans come through for conservative policy, or was it all empty campaign rhetoric? Only time will tell. Many conservative Texans remain very skeptical of the House Republicans’ expressed commitment to enact solid conservative policy.
Their choices for the 2011 Committee Chairs will be telling…
The 2011 Leadership Team…?
The House Republicans will face an early test of their true intentions very soon. Over the next few weeks, the Republicans will name the House committee chairs for the 2011 session. These extremely powerful positions have the power to determine whether bills receive hearings, whether they receive committee votes and whether they make it to the floor. Thus, the chairmanship of the committee chairs is absolutely crucial to the fate of bills filed in the Texas House.
Much of the grassroots opposition to the 2009 leadership team arose out of the left-wing bias of the 2009 chairs, and particularly to the appointment of left-leaning Republican Brian McCall (R-Plano) to Chair the extremely powerful Calendars committee. The Chair of Calendars is the ‘gatekeeper’ of the floor. Thanks to the actions (and inaction) of Brian McCall, much conservative legislation never received a vote in the 2009 session.
Brian McCall was the second furthest-left Republican on the 2009 leadership team (after Jim Pitts,) but he was roughly in the ideological center of the 2009 leadership team. As an illustration of the left-right ideological bias of the 2009 leadership team, we plotted shifted averages of their conservative watchdog ratings on a bar chart:
The numbers above represent 50% subtracted from an average of the following conservative / taxpayer watchdog ratings:
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility 2009
Heritage Alliance (Economic) 2009
Young Conservatives of Texas 2009
The 50% is subtracted to graph the results on a left-right continuum. Thus, a bar extending to the left represents a legislator who tends to vote against conservative policy, while a bar extending to the right represents a legislator who tends to vote for conservative policy. This chart is far from precise, but it gives us a general idea on where each of these Committee Chairs fits on the ideological spectrum.
It can be seen above that fully 18 of the 34 Committee Chairs were left-of-center in the last session. Four were WELL to the left, scoring more than 30 points left of center. Not a single one of the 2009 committee chairs scored 30 points or more in the conservative direction under this analysis. Last session, the left-leaning Committee Chairs (Democrat and Republican) stalled, delayed and buried conservative legislation at every opportunity. They can be expected to do so again if they return to their positions.
Will the Republicans Re-Appoint the 2009 Team?
The good news for conservatives is that Brian McCall can’t be re-appointed as Chair of Calendars, as he didn’t return to the House this session. McCall withdraw from the race after drawing a primary challenge by tea party activist Wayne Richard. Left-leaning Straus lieutenants Tommy Merritt and Delwin Jones went down in the primaries to conservatives David Simpson and Charles Perry, both strongly backed by tea party activists.
Left-wing Democrat Chairs Patrick Rose, Jim McReynolds and Mark Homer are also not returning.
Most of the left-leaning Chairs are, however, returning to the House this session. Will they be re-appointed by the House Republicans? If so, how many? Most importantly, will they appoint a conservative to Chair Calendars, or another Brian McCall? That remains to be seen. The choice for Calendars will be telling.
Call Your State Representatives
Those of you in the grassroots interested in seeing conservative legislation passed by the State Legislature are encouraged to contact your state representatives and let them know that you’re watching. They must come through on their repeated public promises to enact conservative policy this session. Coming through on their promises begins with naming the right Committee Chairs. Reappointment of the left-leaning Committee Chairs for this session is simply not acceptable.
Any State Representative who truly supports conservative policy can be expected to insist that the House Republicans now in charge appoint solid conservatives to Chair the House Committees–and ESPECIALLY the House Calendars Committee.
Where does your State Representative stand?