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The Lite Guv may not be what it used to be

Now that we have an interesting race for the Democratic nomination for Lite Guv, it’s worth wondering whether a Lt. Gov. Earle or a Lt. Gov. Katz would wield the same power as Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and his predecessors. Dave McNeely thinks not.

The Texas lieutenant governor appoints Senate committees and their chairs; decides which bills go to which committees; decides whom to recognize on the Senate floor, thus controlling the agenda; and is the Senate’s leader and names the other four Senate members on the Legislative Budget Board, which writes the rough draft of the state budget.

Most of the lieutenant governor’s powers, however, aren’t in the state constitution, but the Senate rules passed at the start of each regular legislative session.


If Dewhurst is re-elected and doesn’t get an opportunity to go to the U.S. Senate, he will most likely retain the existing powers of the lieutenant governor.

Republicans hold a 19-12 advantage over the Democrats in the Senate. Most observers think that ratio is unlikely to change in the 2010 elections, and they’re unlikely to punish their fellow Republican.

If, however, a Democrat should win — Newsweek magazine recently predicted that White would narrowly be elected governor in 2010, which if it happened, could aid the party’s lieutenant governor candidate — the Republican senators very likely would strip several of the lieutenant governor’s powers.

Burka has addressed the issue of Republican Senators versus the Lite Guv in recent months, though he was talking specifically about Dewhurst. He thinks there’s a good chance the Senate will be a different place in 2011 even if The Dew is still in place. This is all pretty inside baseball stuff, but the potential effects are quite large, so this is definitely worth paying attention to.

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