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Speaker Candidate Hughes Promises to Decentralize Power

State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola and a candidate for speaker of the House, promised his colleagues on Thursday that he will decentralize power in the lower chamber if he is elected.

State Rep. Bryan Hughes shakes hands with a delegate at the trade show of the Texas Republican Convention June 8, 2012.

State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola and a candidate for speaker of the House, promised his colleagues on Thursday that he will decentralize power in the lower chamber if he is elected.

"Over time it is natural for power to be concentrated, and this session provides us an opportunity to reverse this trend, and to move power out of the Speaker's office and back to the members," Hughes wrote in a letter to House members less than 48 hours after polls closed in the general election.

Hughes filed his speaker candidacy on May 29, the day of the primary election, challenging incumbent House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. He has become a Tea Party favorite in his bid to unseat Straus, who he and other opponents have criticized as too moderate for the overwhelmingly conservative Texas House.

In the letter, sent to returning and new House members, Hughes promised to bring change if he is elected to lead. The first major decision House lawmakers make after being sworn into office in January is their vote for House speaker, a leader chosen from among the 150 members.

Hughes said he would decentralize power in the House, by increasing the number of seniority seats on committees and making all committees subject to seniority appointments. Hughes wrote that he would champion a mechanism that would allow bills with broad support to be brought to the House floor for debate. In the past, some controversial bills have been curbed in House committees.

"This is frustrating to members and especially to the people of Texas," Hughes wrote.

Hughes also promised to make committee assignments quickly, allowing members to get to work faster. In recent sessions, he wrote, committee appointments have happened later.

"This delay wastes precious time and contributes to the bottleneck of bills and to the breakneck pace at the end of session," he wrote.

Straus did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. 

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