April 18, 2006
Opening up the State House

Yesterday, VInce noted the following exchange at the start of the session:

Rep. Dunnam has been asked about what rules the House will be governed by. Craddick says same one as last session. Now, he’s been asked how to amend the rules. More questions if proposed rule changes can get out of committee before bills.

Rep. Dunnam notes he has filed HR-33, and is asking that the rules be suspended so some "open government" rules can be adopted for this session. Craddick would not recognize this. Couldn’t find this online.

This is what Dunnam was referring to. It's a fairly straightforward six-point plan to make the proceedings of the House more open and user friendly. A quick summary:

The Open the People's House Reform Plan is an six-point rules reform proposal that includes:

1. Providing "real time" internet access to all floor amendments and record votes

2. Requiring Chief Clerk to retain a copy of all pre-filed amendments

3. Requiring "real time" record votes

4. Requiring 2/3 vote to adopt Calendar rule for specific legislation

5. Requiring the House to follow the open meetings laws

6. Requiring conference committees to meet in public, provide proper notice, sign reports in a public meeting, and require an actual copy of conference reports to be available at the meeting

Items 1, 2, 5, and 6 seem like common sense to me. Item 3 is also perfectly sensible, and it has come up before - in fact, the Dallas Morning News has written extensively on the topic in the past (there's way more links on those pages, too). Item 4 is the only nonobvious one, but the fuller explanation at the first link explains it pretty clearly.

Now of course, this isn't on the call for the special session. Many other things aren't as well, some of which Governor Perry will feel pressure to add later on. Seems to me that if you're going to make fundamental changes to the state's tax system, you ought to commit to doing it in as open a manner as possible. Adopting these reforms now would not affect this session, but it would be a show of good faith. Whether we can even discuss them or not is up to Rick Perry.

Vince and Eye on Williamson have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2006 to That's our Lege | TrackBack