June 19, 2007
Abbott's opinion sought on Craddick's power

Well, this ought to be interesting.

Two lawmakers asked the Texas attorney general Monday for an advisory opinion on the legality of House Speaker Tom Craddick's handling of an attempt to unseat him last month.

During the final days of the legislative session, several lawmakers tried to make a parliamentary motion that would have allowed the 150-member chamber to vote to oust Craddick. But Craddick, the presiding officer of the chamber, cited "absolute authority" and kept his seat by refusing to acknowledge any lawmaker to make such a motion. The session ended with Craddick still in power.

"Clearly, the integrity of the Texas House of Representatives is at a critical crossroads as to whether the use of 'absolute authority' by the post of Texas House speaker contradicts the state constitution," wrote Rep. Jim Keffer, who has filed his candidacy to replace Craddick as speaker.

Keffer, a Republican from Eastland, argued that the specific rule Craddick and his parliamentary advisers used to assert their authority allows "the speaker to govern the order in which members are to be recognized, but not whether they will be recognized which seems to be in direct violation of the state constitution."

Craddick's critics say his assertion of absolute power is an example of their gripe -- an unyielding leader.

A spokeswoman for Craddick said he welcomes the review.

The specific questions being asked are here, and Craddick's response is here.

I have no idea what AG Abbott will do with this hot potato. Frankly, given how long he sat on the Strayhorn question about the business tax, I'll be happy if he gives any answer at all before the 81st Lege gets sworn in. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 19, 2007 to That's our Lege