April 26, 2009
It only hurts when it happens to you

This story is about the likely death of the Wentworth nonpartisan redistricting committee bill, which wasn't unexpected, but the real story is about how it went down.

A move to put redistricting into the hands of a bi-partisan public commission instead of partisan lawmakers was derailed today in the Texas Senate, as conservative Republicans flexed their muscle against moderate members of their own party.

The rare display of a GOP split came when state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, a San Antonio Republican who represents parts of southern Austin and Travis County, tried to bring up for debate his long-delayed Senate Bill 315.

Five senators were absent, several of whom were against the measure. Conservative Republicans immediately jumped up to object.

"It appears this is an end-around movement," complained Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston. This is a bushwhacking."

Yes, Lord knows we can't have any attempts to get around Senate rules to push through legislation that doesn't have two-thirds support of the chamber. That just won't do.

Patrick said he opposed today's maneuver by Wentworth to take a vote with several members absent.

"Trying to sneak one through. That's not how its supposed to work in the Senate," he said.

Oh, Danno. You're so frigging precious I could just pinch your cheeks.

Carlos Uresti came down with a serious bout of the flu Monday, and left the Capitol after fellow senators noted how bad he looked shivering in the Senate lounge. In particular, Dr. Kyle Janek advised him to get to bed, amidst joking from others present: "What do you think is going to happen? That we'll call up the Voter ID bill?"

It now appears that Uresti's illness may have prompted David Dewhurst to recognize Troy Fraser on the controversial bill, which set in motion an emotional outburst midday Tuesday over Dewhurst's refusal to count John Whitmire's vote.

Oddly enough, I don't remember Sen. Patrick expressing any outrage at the time of that attempt to sneak one through. He's always advocated for letting the majority have its way in the Senate (though he aimed a bit lower this session, trying to drum up support for a three-fifths rule instead), and for doing away with the two-thirds rule altogether - the whole opening day voter ID rules change was a dream come true for him. But when he needs the protection of the two thirds rule to prevent something he doesn't like from going through - indeed, in a situation where he himself was the difference between there being two-thirds support and not - boy will he whine about any sneaky attempts to subvert that rule. Way to be a man of principle, Danno!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 26, 2009 to That's our Lege
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