If passing the budget wasn't the big news yesterday, then this would have to be it.
Tempers finally spilled over on the House floor this morning with two lawmakers shoving each other and members walking out of the chamber after Rep. Pat Haggerty began taking a roll call on who supported Speaker Tom Craddick and who wanted to remove him from office.
The House had to adjourn when the walkout left the chamber without a quorum.
"Tonight was the only way that people could express their vote of no confidence in the speaker,'' Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said. "The way this session has been run by the speaker has been an example of someone using absolute power to corrupt the democratic process.''
The House had approved a new state budget before the disruption, but the walkout jeopardized several other major bills, including a new water plan, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice sunset bill and a bill involving parks funding.
[Pat] Haggerty, an El Paso Republican, began taking a roll call during a personal privilege speech, which triggered an all-out rebellion.
Turner, D-Houston, a Craddick ally, told Haggerty he had to stop his roll call, which showed more members favoring Craddick's ouster.
"It's the only way to send a message,'' Haggerty said.
He also blasted Craddick's new parliamentarians, whom the speaker brought in Friday night after his parliamentarian and her assistant quit.
Terry Keel and Ron Wilson, both former House members, are Craddick's allies and issued rulings indicating that Craddick had absolute power not to recognize members for a motion to remove him. Both Keel and Wilson lost elections.
"Where did they go to parliamentarian school that somehow makes them better than God?'' Haggerty asked.
Among the many notable things about last night's action is the increasing number of onetime Craddick supporters who are now speaking against him. El Paso Democrat Norma Chavez, who was quoted in that E-N story. Round Rock Republican Mike Krusee:
"This interpretation of our rules has erected a wall between the leadership and the membership," said House Transportation Committee Chairman Mike Krusee of Round Rock, one of several House chairmen who began the session supporting Mr. Craddick and ended it vowing to replace him. "Mr. Speaker, we must tear it down."
But earlier, Mr. Krusee acknowledged that Mr. Craddick held all the cards.
"When the speaker rules that he can overrule all the House rules, where do you go?" he said. "You have nowhere to go."
"This will be dealt with in the rules next session," said House Financial Institution Chairman Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, who carried the House rules through its ratification in January and said it was "never the intent of the rules" to give the speaker absolute authority. "Whether I do it again, or someone else does. But it will be dealt with."
Craddick's supporters claim that since there were 94 legislators left on the floor after the walkout, that means he's in even stronger shape than he was at the start of the session. Karen Brooks has a response to that:
[B]y my count, there are about a dozen who were voted in that 94 but may not have voted against a motion to vacate.
I'm not making assumptions about anyone, I'm being very conservative, so I'm going to give you the most obvious among those: Jose Menendez, D-SA; Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston; TODD SMITH (a leader in the insurgency); Chente Quintanilla was in the bathroom and didn't walk out OR vote (though someone voted him.)
In short, however, this number is no more meaningful than the 87 who voted to overrule the chair a few weeks ago. The insurgents didn't have 87 votes then, and Craddick doesn't have 94 now.
BOR followed all the action last night for the insomnia crowd. Looks like several major bills, including the zombie version of HB13 are likely dead (again, in some cases), which makes the Observer wonder about a special. We'll know when Governor Perry finally breaks his silence on all this. Stay tuned, the House convenes one last time for this session today at 2.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 28, 2007 to That's our Lege