01.31.07

Why Blogs Are Better Than The MSM, 60-Day Rule Vote Coverage Edition

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary at 9:38 am by wcnews

Let’s be frank. Yesterday’s vote not to suspend the constitutional 60 day rule will not clog the calendar and will not cause gridlock. Tom Craddick’s stalling on committee assignments did more than this will to slow the process. The main contention of this post is that the MSM is treating this as Democratic infighting and either can’t or won’t deal with the specifics/minutiae of this issue.

One specific being the number of bills this is likely to effect. An issue which Kuff posted on and quotes Rep. Jim Dunnam from yesterday’s debate:

[Democratic Rep. Jim] Dunnam is up now. Says look at the facts of what we are really talking about. “We are told if we don’t pass this, the whole House will come to gridlock. I have the calendars from the last several sessions. In the 76th legislature, do you know how many were brought up in the first 60 days? Two! In the 77th, we brought up six. In the 78th session, six came to the House floor, and in the 79th session, ten bills. Those include the emergency bills. So you are being told if we can’t bring up ten bills in the next 60 days the Senate is going to rule the world and the sky is going to fall. If we can’t take up 6-10 bills in the next 60 days, nobody’s bills are going to be passed. That’s not credible. You know that.”

(2,6,6 & 10 in the last four sessions). Gridlock is not coming because of this despite what is the headlines and stories. I’m not sure why this context is being left out of these articles.

Read through these four main dailies of Texas and you would think this vote just shutdown the Texas Legislature for the first 60 days of session:

DMN, Democrats’ ploy delays House votes.

HChron (also in the SAEN), House members get $132 a day to do nothing until Feb. 8. Way to use one of Rep. Turner’s talking points for your headline.
AAS, House denies Craddick control of early agenda.

Startlegram, Democrats in Legislature divided.

The last question of Vince’s interview with Rep. Mike Villarreal really lays out what this has done:

Capitol Annex: Listening to the debate, with the talk of suspending on a bill-by-bill basis, I got the impression that, doing it that way, it takes a lot of the control out of the Speaker’s hands and even the Calendar’s Committee and really gives a lot more control to the 150 members, individually and collectively.

Rep. Villarreal: There are lots of thoughts on who would end up setting the agenda. It is dependant on how the governor responds, how the Speaker responds and how the Senate and individual members respond on the house floor. One can only theorize who this will help or hurt in terms of ability to influence the agenda. Let me give you an example.

Today, Rep. [Mike] Krusse [R-Round Rock], set a of bills for consideration in committee, and he came to the mic and moved to suspend Article III Section 5 of the constitution to allow the House to take up and consider House Bills x, y, and z. I believe it was Rep. Eiland (D-Galveston) who took the back mic and ask him to describe what they did he described them. They were good bills about child safety seats, seatbelts, things like that which are of public interest and concern and we gave unanimous consent and supported suspension of the rules.

If a member’s bill or committee hearing – committees only until Feb 7th – are above board and legitimate they’ll get the votes and business can proceed as usual. If someone’s trying something shady, it’ll be stopped. This vote provides a check, in the first 60 days, that’s all. Why the MSM won’t report this issue that way is beyond me.

Below the fold I go through the Startlegram article above.

This Startlegram article, Fight for leadership leaves Texas Democrats splintered, attempts to frame today’s failed procedural vote as Democratic infighting and a ploy by the minority to stop expedited legislation.

Divisions among Democrats in the Texas House were on grand display again Tuesday as factions within the minority party battled loudly over what typically would have been a dry procedural matter.

It was the second day in a row that House Democrats showed signs of friction. The procedural fight also signaled rough political waters ahead, political observers say. “The Democrats were half over here and half over there — that’s how I read it,” said political analyst Ross Ramsey, editor of the Texas Weekly newsletter. “Democrats looked completely split to me.”

What prompted the latest round of hand-wringing was a routine motion to suspend part of the Texas Constitution so that the House could take up legislation on an expedited basis.

If the House Democrats are splintered it’s not because of this, it’s because of the Speaker’s vote on January 9th. Again bills can still be brought up before the 60th day of the legislative session, they just have to get a 4/5ths vote. Bills must now be voted on individually and Dyer fails to mention that in his article. Bills can still be expedited.

Even though almost all Republicans sided with (Rep. Sylvester) Turner, that side ultimately lost. That’s because the House can only suspend the Texas Constitution with a four-fifths vote, and Turner’s side fell short by about a dozen votes.

[...]

Ramsey cautioned that the vote should not be seen as a victory for those opposed to Craddick, but rather as a sign of division among House Democrats

Right. The cause of this is Tom Craddick’s failed leadership. This could have been avoided had Craddick been more inclusive and less divisive in his leadership style and committee assignments after the January 9th vote. While Democrats were split on this issue, it’s not just infighthing that caused this, and discounting a weakened Speaker is wrong. Of course allowing this to look like a Democrat on Democrat fight was because of Rep. Turner leading the fight on this vote. I would much more have preferred Rep. Chisum been the one at the from podium during this fight.

But the MSM just writing this off as a case of Democratic infighting allows them to not have to deal with the minutiae of this issue. It keep them from having to explain what’s really going on here shows, again, the value of blogs over the MSM.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Still More On The 60 Day Rule said,

    February 1, 2007 at 9:26 am

    [...] These two editorials (AAS – Was Democrats’ petty victory worth it?, DMN – Suspending Good Sense) are more of the same. Again the blogs are doing a much better job. Here’s Kuff’s post on what was gained from this, Compromise looming on 60-day rule. Yesterday, we were led to believe that the failure to suspend the 60-day rule meant a whole lot of nothing for the House in the immediate future. (The fact that this impression is substantively wrong in many respects is beside the point.) Today we hear that a compromise is on the horizon, and that it should be hammered out today. As reported by Laylan Copelin, “House Resolution 189 would allow local bills to move forward. [Rep. Warren] Chisum and the resolution opponents are negotiating the meaning of local.” [...]

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