Gattis wants to amend the constitution to allow removal of speaker

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, HD-20, Speakers Race, Williamson County at 1:18 pm by wcnews

Via Postcards, Proposition would allow removal of House speaker.

Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, has filed a constitutional proposition that would allow for the removal of a House speaker, a topic that almost shut down the 2007 session.

The House erupted last session over Speaker Tom Craddick’s refusal to recognize a motion to remove him. The issue has simmered since then and is one of the undercurrents in the current speaker race.

The proposition by Gattis would require 100 of the 150 House members to agree to remove a speaker.

Gattis said his proposal tries to straddle two concerns: making the hurdle high enough to avoid a continuous speaker fight but also preventing the kind of standoff that occurred last year when Craddick, R-Midland, refused to recognize the motion.

“We don’t want a speaker-of-the-week,” Gattis said. On the other hand, he said, “You could have a speaker who shut down the process.”

Gattis, who says he’s uncommitted in this year’s speaker race, said a constitutional amendment is necessary because the House rules can change every two years.

We did have a speaker that shut down the process last session. While this idea has some merit, it’s puzzling why 50 percent plus one isn’t a high enough threshold. If a speaker has lost over half the members they probably deserve to go. Gattis is also overstating how often this would happen, in particular once Craddick is no longer speaker. The resolution, HJR 33, adds this line to the constitution:

The House of Representatives by rule may provide for the removal of the Speaker by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to the House.

Isn’t it funny that Texas never needed to amend the constitution for this reason until it elected it’s first Republican majority in the Texas House since Reconstruction? As Trailblazers point out this won’t matter this session since the amendment can’t be ratified until after this session.

Considered a Craddick loyalist, Gattis of late appears to have broken somewhat from the pack, particularly as his name has been among the myriad who have been suggested as potential speaker candidates. And given the bill he just filed. Which wouldn’t affect Craddick because it would have to go to voters. But, still.

This could be Gattis trying to play the “statesman” in an attempt to further his case for speaker. Especially in light of his statement that he’s “uncommitted” in the speaker’s race at this time, (see BOR’s updated tally). If this bill moves forward it will only face resistance, more than likely, in the House. Historically we know that voters in Texas usually pass constitutonal amendments by wide margins.

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