This letter from Wayne Christian, the chair of the Conservative Coalition in the House, went out on April 4 (last Saturday):
Please take time to read the attached letter from the Quorum Report. Please note that Speaker Eiland writes that following the Sunday meeting of the Conservative Coalition [emphasis original], “many of the Republican members of the House became very reluctant or even opposed to using Rainy Day Funds at this time.” [Eiland’s letter to colleagues pertained to funding for the hurricane bill that will be on the House floor next week.] This coming Sunday night meeting (6:00 at Whole Foods) Speaker Straus and Chairman Pitts have asked to meet with us. Thus, we met, we agreed, we won, and now we are invited to the “table.”
I am aware of the costs to the most important part of our lives (our families) is significant during this season of session. I can remember from a decade ago sitting on the House floor while listening to debates which were doing nothing but “chubbing” to kill bills, as my wife called and let my daughter tell me she had hit a home run in her softball game. I continue to feel guilty to this day, but I made a commitment both to my God and thousands of folk who have honored me to represent them. Most do not have high paid lobbyists here fighting for them. Just me.
We have heard many of you who ask if we can move our meetings to some “other time” and we have searched for such. I wish we could find some time most of us can come together, but with committees, bill presentations, press conferences, and such…[ellipses original]Sunday evening is simply the time open to most. (Next week will be the Monday night after Easter).
Conservatives find that individually we are very short on power in this session, but together we HAVE and can win. I count only two months left in this session. I would ask you to kiss your spouse, hug your kids (or grandkids, and come early to join us in trying to make this state better for them and those who sent you. These two months are the MOST IMPORTANT of your two years given by your constituents.
“Together We Win!” Divided We ??
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The letter is interesting because the Conservative Coalition is viewed as one aspect of the opposition to the Straus speakership (the other being Sylvester Turner, alone), and yet the tone of the letter is not oppositional. This reflects the fundamental difficulty of predicting what the House will do as the moment of truth approaches: the debate on the appropriations bill. We are in mid-April, and nobody knows for sure what the teams are.
On the subject of the Rainy Day Fund: I think that the Republicans generally, not just the Conservative Coalition, were never going to vote to dip into the Rainy Day funds–at least not after the stimulus funds became available. This is just too volatile an issue in a Republican primary. Eiland did have to use general revenue for hurricane recovery efforts, and his legislation is now part of the emergency appropriations bill, which means that the pot of money it appropriates cannot be reached by lawmakers who would like to get their hands on the money for their own uses. The stimulus package saved lawmakers from a bloodbath.