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The Brief: Nov. 10, 2010

Already weary, Democrats in the Legislature stand to lose one of their last remaining bulwarks.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, speaking during a Senate Committee on Education hearing on July 20, 2010.  He is the Viceā€¦

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Already weary, Democrats in the Legislature stand to lose one of their last remaining bulwarks.

That's if state Sen. Dan Patrick has his way, at least.

The Houston Republican is renewing his call for a change to the rule in the Senate requiring two-thirds of its members — or, currently, 21 out of 31 — to agree to bring a bill up for vote, reports Ben Philpott of the Tribune and KUT News. And while Republicans in the House will have nearly free rein with their new 99-51 advantage, the Senate contains only 19 Republicans, which would let Democrats block all Republican legislation.

Patrick, as he's said in the past, wants the rule changed from two-thirds to 60 percent, or 18 votes. "I don't think the Senate should be or can be in a position to say, 'The overwhelming majority of Texans voted for conservative Republicans and we’re going to let 12 Democrats block everything that the people want,'" said Patrick, who believes Republicans were delivered a mandate after their sweep last week and should work to pass, among other conservative pieces of legislation, a voter ID bill.

The Senate could change the rule with 16 votes, and Patrick said a handful of senators have already signed on.

But to some, including Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, Patrick's focus is myopic. "I think [Patrick] is interested far more in getting the numbers that will allow him to do what he wants to do this session," Jones said.

CULLED:

  • A string of deaths has plagued the Houston-area residential treatment facility in which a teenager last week died of asphyxiation while a staffer restrained him.
  • The El Paso City Council could reverse last week's voter-approved referendum that revoked health benefits for gay and unmarried partners of city employees.
  • Texas Monthly's Paul Burka looks back on Nov. 2 and what it means for the state's future: "After losing 22 seats in the House of Representatives, the Democratic party will not be a factor in Texas politics for a decade, at least. Not that it has been much of a factor for the past decade. This was not just a defeat; it was an annihilation bordering on political genocide."

"It's time for Ortiz to concede this election."Steve Ray, campaign spokesman for Blake Farenthold, the Republican currently leading — by 799 votes — longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi, who filed for a recount on Tuesday

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