The Big Conversation
Vanquished in his fight to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus, state Rep. David Simpson isn't backing down.
Simpson, a conservative Republican from Longview who challenged the speaker but withdrew shortly before the vote last week, today will lead an effort to try to weaken Straus by changing the House rules, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
The proposed changes include measures that would limit the speaker's committee-naming authority and give members more power when pushing legislation opposed by House leaders.
"The basic idea is to level the power a little bit," Simpson told the Statesman, which notes that Reps. Van Taylor, R-Plano; Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola; and Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, will help Simpson's efforts.
The challenge underscores perhaps the biggest hurdle Straus faces this session: taking on issues that have proven tricky for Republicans in the past while trying to avoid further angering the far right, which has long viewed him as insufficiently conservative. Tackling such issues, like public education and transportation infrastructure, is essential not only for the state, but also for the future of the Republican Party in Texas, he recently told the Tribune.
How much support Simpson's rule changes will draw, though, remains unclear. Rep. Dan Branch, a Dallas Republican and Straus ally, warned, "If you change too much, there are unintended consequences."
Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston, who has served as the leader of the House Democrats, said her party recognized the risks of supporting such changes.
"The measures can cut both ways, and Democrats recognize that," Farrar said. "We’ll want a strong speaker later on."
Compiled from Tribune reports
• Today marks the debut of the Tribune's Lawmaker Explorer, a first-of-its-kind interactive tool that gives Texans a window into the personal interests of their state legislators. The explorer, a nine-month research endeavor, serves as the linchpin of the Tribune's Bidness as Usual project, a session-long look at ethics and transparency in the Texas Legislature. Check out Emily Ramshaw's overview of the data and Evan Smith's look at why we undertook the project. And don't miss New York Times media writer David Carr's latest column, where the project gets a shout-out. (Thanks, David!)
• Dewhurst: Texas Should Fund Teacher Firearms Training: "In the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday called for the state to consider funding specialized firearms training for school employees. The announcement echoed remarks Dewhurst made Friday morning while speaking at a conservative policy summit."
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Texas news from across the state and around the web
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Quote of the Day: "I’m perfectly situated. It’s not a reflection on David Dewhurst. When you’ve been in a high-profile office for 12 years, there’s a certain amount of voter fatigue that occurs." — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on the 2014 lieutenant governor's race
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