Tribpedia: James "Pete" Laney

James "Pete" Laney, D-Hale Center, served five terms as Speaker of the Texas House, from 1993 to 2003.

The farmer and businessman from the Texas Panhandle, born March 20, 1943, had been an important chairman under Speakers Billy Clayton and Gib Lewis, and won a pitched race for the job against Rep. Jim Rudd, D-Brownfield.

He and Lewis are the only legislators to serve five terms as speaker.

Laney served as chairman of the committees on State Affairs and Administration before his election to the top seat.

Laney won support from fellow legislators by concentrating on the operation of the House and letting them — for the most part — determine which bills should pass and which should fail. He streamlined the process to smooth out the Legislature's business; lawmakers who had become accustomed to special sessions didn't have a single one while he was speaker. He also presided with a narrow Democratic majority, and won praise from Republicans like then-Gov. George W. Bush for maintaining a bipartisan atmosphere.

Laney was first elected to the House in 1972, and decided not to run for reelection in 2006, having served two terms after he lost the speakership to Republican Tom Craddick of Midland. Craddick, who was born the same year as Laney and was a college classmate at Texas Tech University, won after Republicans won the majority of House seats in the 2002 election.

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