In his post-session Q and A with reporters, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst predicted that proposals for changing the Texas Senate’s two-thirds rule will evaporate if senators find middle ground on the Voter ID bill. “With agreement on that issue, it (a rules change) becomes moot,” he said.
In fact, each time reporters asked about changing Senate rules for debate, Dewhurst went directly to the Voter ID issue. No segue. It sounded like this:
Reporters: ”What’s the status of the two-thirds rule?”
Dewhurst: “The Voter ID bill really isn’t a hard issue to solve. It’s really not that controversial.”
You gotta stay on your toes with this guy.
Anyway, Dewhurst insisted that proponents of voter ID ”don’t want to disenfranchise anybody.” He also suggested that a phase-in of Voter ID – over a “two year to four year” period – might make its implementation easier.
“I see general support for continuation of the two-thirds rule,” he added.
Moments later, Sen. Dan Patrick expressed optimism about his proposal that the Senate adopt a “three-fifths” rule (moving the threshold from 21 to 19 votes before legislation can be debated). The current two-thirds means the Senate dodges debates on “tough issues,” he said. Noting he was “the lone ranger” for a rules change last session, he told reporters he sensed more willingness among senators to discuss it.
Unlike Dewhurst, Patrick wants a permanent change and does not link it to any issue.”If the D’s had the majority, I’d still support three-fifths (vote to approve debate),” he said.
Senate rules can be adopted with support of a simple majority. So at least for tomorrow, only one number matters: 16.