November 08, 2014

Why Breaking The Joe Straus/Senfronia Thompson Connection Is So Important For Texas Conservatives

You may have noticed a recent theme here at Rhymes With Right. Thursday, I went after State Representative Senfronia Thompson for insulting Texas Republicans. Then on Friday, I went after Speaker Joe Straus over having appointed her to chair two committees and how Straus needs to be voted out of office by the GOP caucus if he does not publicly repudiate Thompson and remove her from her chairmanships. Now let's consider why this whole matter is important to implementing conservative policies that Texas voters embraced in Tuesday's election.


Notice that Straus has in the past appointed Thompson to chair the Local and Consent Calendar Committee. Now consider this from one of Straus's allies just this past summer.

Using the language of Democrats, [State Rep. Jason] Villalba described the incoming Senate GOP caucus led by Dan Patrick as dominated by “slash and burn Republicans.” In contrast, Villalba claimed the Straus-led House will be “the adults.”

Villalba said no one should expect conservative legislation passed by the Senate to survive the Texas House as long as his man is speaker. “Straus is going to remain Straus.”

He noted, “You’re going to see a number of bills that come from the Senate and go to the House and I think that’s where you’re going to see them die.” He said that the Texas Senate of 2015 will be “the most conservative in state history” – and it wasn’t a compliment.

The freshman lawmaker gave several examples:

The bills that are going to originate from the Senate this session are going to be much more conservative than you’ve ever seen historically in Texas… everything from vouchers to anti-Common Core, to TSA-groping to sanctuary cities. All these bills that have been sort of on the back burner for many years are going to originate from the Senate and be thrown into the House.

According to Villalba, House members hoping to get conservative legislation passed first from the Senate won’t even get a chance to have them voted on because of the Straus-appointed Calendars Committee.

“On Calendars he has appointed his closest (allies). Calendars decides what bills get to the floor for a vote,” said Villalba. “I can tell you right now most bills die in Calendars… because Calendars is, again, loyal to the speaker and loyal to the folks who are trying to get things done.“

Villalba defines “adult” and “trying to get things done” as opposing conservative initiatives.

Which means that Speaker Straus is committed to keeping conservative legislation from reaching the floor -- and not only is he going to keep the major bills that Texas conservatives want passed from reaching the floor, he's even putting in place a committee chair to keep even non-controversial conservative legislation from reaching the floor because she views conservatism as "ignorance" and "stupid". So one man -- Texas' own Harry Reid -- is putting in place gatekeepers who will thwart the will of the people of Texas as expressed at the polls on November 4.

And we know he has done such things in the past -- just consider the last legislative session, in which 51% of the laws passed by the House and sent on to the Governor were authored or co-authored by Democrats, despite the fact that the GOP had 40 more seats than Democrats in the House. Of course, what do you expect from a guy with a history of trying to silence political blogs like this one despite the protection that the First Amendment of the US Constitution and Article I, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution because they seek to undermine his hold on power by giving voice to the sentiments of the grass roots? Of course he's going to side more often with the opposition party rather than the party that represents the majority of Texans!

Of course, Joe Straus will try to fool the people of Texas. I got an example of this in the mail just the other evening. Straus's Texas House Leadership Fund is sending this to Texans after the election, trying to gin up support for his retention.



Wait just a minute -- for all Speaker Straus and his PAC brag about conservative accomplishments, Straus was not a big supporter of a lot of the ones listed here. After all, Straus was the guy who worked so hard to keep pro-life legislation from going through during the regular session of the legislature, enabling Wendy Davis to put on her "pink tennis shoes and catheter" filibuster during the special session -- a special session that Straus opposed considering pro-life legislation. Straus wasn't a big fan of a lot of those budget accomplishments, either. And as far as Second Amendment rights are concerned, Straus was not a supporter there, either. Indeed, Straus really wasn't a leader on any of the significant conservative accomplishments listed on this mailer. So why should we back him if he isn't backing us?

Which leads us to the salient issue once again. If Joe Straus wants our support, he needs to support us by dumping Senfronia Thompson and appointing a good conservative in her place as chair of the Local and Consent Calendar Committee. He needs to appoint strong conservatives to the Calendars Committee so that the legislation we want gets a timely and fair hearing and vote before the House, rather than being bottled up and buried. In other words, he has to show us that he is willing to defer to the GOP base and the GOP platform -- or he needs to be replaced by someone like Scott Turner, who we know is a conservative who will run the Texas House like Texas is a red state.

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NAME: Greg
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