I heard about the threat from a Democratic senator. The veto would be retribution for the Wendy Davis’s filibuster that killed the school finance bill and forced a special session, which Perry did not want. If the Legislature fails to pass a redistricting bill during the regular session, the task falls to the Legislative Redistricting Board, which includes the lieutenant governor, the speaker, the attorney general, the comptroller, and the land commissioner–all of whom, of course, are Republicans. The LRB would then be in a position to punish Democratic senators by relocating their districts to new constituencies, such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Democrats have been playing for time all session, in the hope that the public will become engaged (or enraged) by what the Legislature has done to education. They would like nothing more than to see the galleries and the hallways packed with vacationing school teachers. It would also be a thorn in the governor’s side to have a special session during the period when the governor must sign or veto bills–possibly giving lawmakers an shot to override vetoes. But teachers are not prolific voters, and the intensity of public engagement in recent years has been much higher among Republican voters than among Democrats. Which is why we have 101 R’s in the House.
The failure of school finance and other bills in the House last night was predictable. The House has operated with no sense of urgency all session. It stands at ease for long periods of time. The languid pace came back to haunt the leadership last night, as Democrats tried to kill the clock and Republicans, notably Bonnen, tried to circumvent the Laney rules, which were put in place to prevent sneaky things from happening in the closing days. Most veterans, myself included, think that the Laney rules, which are a series of deadlines, have changed the legislative process for the better and prevent a lot of mischief. Today is supposed to be for “technical corrections” only. Instead, there could be a frenzy of suspending the rules. I hope the speaker enforces the Laney calendar–although, I am told, even Laney violated his own rules at least once (in 2001). The rules exist to protect the members, not to provide a way to wire around the failure of the House to act in previous days when major bills endured postponement after postponement (see HB 400). I agree with Harold Dutton, who said from the back mike last night, “We are torturing the rules in this House.”
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