Those who voted against Straus had a rough time representing their communities


Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is sworn in as the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives

At this point, it is abundantly clear that this was one of the least productive sessions of the Texas Legislature in years – at least if you count how many bills were passed. There is, naturally, a legitimate debate about whether it is positive or negative for fewer bills than usual to be passed into law.

Those who closely observe the process understand that both good and bad pieces of legislation die due to procedural moves or failure to jump key hurdles before critical deadlines. In fact, when the second reading deadline approaches in the Texas House, you can hear members of the lobby alternately sighing or cheering as it becomes apparent certain bills won’t live another day.

If members file bills in good faith, any objective analysis must assume that those lawmakers at least wanted those bills to become Texas law and made an effort toward that end.

There has been much talk about which Republicans will face primary challenges because of their support for Speaker Joe Straus. Some of them have already drawn challengers and the forces backed by Midland oilman Tim Dunn are hard at work each day trying to undermine them.

But, the inverse deserves examination as well. Specifically, which members might deserve a primary challenge because they surrendered the ability to be effective voices for their communities at the Texas Capitol?

By choosing to take a futile vote when it was already clear who would be running the House, 19 Republicans not only put themselves at odds with the leadership but also largely insulated themselves from those who would be in the governing coalition. After the vote for Speaker, rare was the vote for a leadership priority that didn’t enjoy the support of roughly 130 members or more.

In total, the 19 Republican lawmakers who voted for Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, filed 382 bills. 22 of those were passed to Gov. Abbott’s desk for a passage rate of 6%. When looking individually at the passage rate of those members’ bills, they ranged from 0% up to 16%.

The communities that were underrepresented in 2015 in Austin in this fashion were concentrated in the usually mighty Metroplex and East Texas.

House members who passed none of their bills to the governor were Jonathan Stickland of Bedford, freshman Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, freshman Matt Rinaldi of Irving, Matt Schaefer of Tyler, freshman Matt Shaheen of Plano, freshman Molly White of Belton, the aforementioned Scott Turner of Frisco, and freshman Stuart Spitzer of Athens.

Those who passed a grand total of one bill each to Gov. Abbott’s desk were Bill Zedler of Arlington, freshman Mark Keough of The Woodlands, Scott Sanford of Plano, and freshman Tony Tinderholt of Arlington.

Collin County was particularly poorly represented as Scott Turner, Jeff Leach, Sanford, and Shaheen only passed three bills all told. Two of those were authored by Leach and one was by Sanford.

Some credit should probably be extended to Republicans who voted against the Speaker and still managed to achieve comparatively higher passage rates for their bills.

Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola did the best of the bunch, passing 16% of his bills. Rep. David Simpson, who will be running against Hughes for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Sen.Kevin Eltife, managed to pass 12% of his bills. Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth passed 10% of his bills and Rep. Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie was able to pass 14% of the legislation he filed.

Note: This column originally ran in The Quorum Report.  Copyright June 15, 2015, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.