The circus called the Texas Legislature comes to Austin in a few days & will run for at least 5 months. What can people expect? A pretty different environment than for the last couple
- The new Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen will mean different House Leadership. Many of the moves Rep. Bonnen has made so far have been positive ones to reduce backroom & lobbyist control of the House that predominated the Straus tenure. But, once the heat comes, we’ll see how that holds up. Dennis is a man of strong will & opinion. which will most assuredly prove to be both a feature AND a bug in his Speakership. Bus, as someone whose first introduction to Dennis was having him try to verbally beat my views on tax relief into submission for 20 minutes when I spoke before his committee, I actually have hope that he’ll be a far better Speaker than Straus.
- A New speaker means new Committee Chairs- ones that will NOT have to ‘kiss the ring of Democrat lobbyist Gordon Johnson to get the position, as they did with Straus. Also, a number of ‘problems’ retired- most notably Byron Cook. There is great hope that Rep. Bonnen will be far faster in getting Chairs in place to get to work. Last session, Straus took 35 days; hopefully, Bonnen will take less than half that time.
- The election left us with 12 less GOP Texas House members and 1 less GOP Senator. The GOP still holds solid majorities, but not as solid. The practical impact of that is an expectation that the most controversial fights will be less likely to occur. Frankly, there is little taste for revisiting the ‘bathroom bill’ kerfuffle, except those that live to gen up division. More critical issues of education funding reorganization and property tax reform will be the main focus. The Dems will push hard on a number of issues, most involving lots more spending.
- The Senate will be slightly less conservative with the loss of Konnie Burton & Don Huffines, with the addition of Pete Flores. However, with Bonnen’s public commitment to try to work with the Senate and the initial unity of the GOP Caucus- something we have NOT had for many sessions- there are opportunities for conservative advancement.
- But one thing is constant. There are large & powerful forces in the Professional Political Class that got that way by fostering division & discord and will try to undo ANY attempts at unity. Dennis Bonnen has been at this long enough, I’m sure he is aware of this & hopefully he’ll fight those forces to some degree.
- We’ll see how it all comes together. We’ll be reporting as much blow by blow as we can manage. Stay tuned.