Wrong division
Wed May 13, 2009 11:35 pm

Eiland and Truitt just engaged in a major debate over Teacher Retirement System bill that expanded the types of companies eligible to offer 403(b) retirement accounts to certify with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Eiland offered an amendment sought by the Houston Independent School District. Truitt, aided by Christian, fought it vigorously. I will readily admit that I couldn't follow a word of it, nor could I detect any ideological reason why the head of the Conservative Coalition would be involved in the debate. So why am I writing about it? Because this was obviously an issue that was important enough to stir the passions, but no one called for a record vote on Truitt's motion to table. Straus called for a division vote. There is only one reason for a division vote, and that is to protect members from public scrutiny. I'm all for the new era of cooperation, but letting members hide behind division votes on an issue that must have been important (or else why was Christian banging on the table and Truitt railing at Eiland?) is collusion rather than cooperation. Texas teachers are entitled to know how their representatives voted on this issue. The House has been backsliding into division votes for the last couple of weeks. No one is accountable for his or her votes on important amendments.

This is why I don't like the constitutional amendment requiring third readings to be a mandatory record vote. Third reading is perfunctory. Second reading is the real test, and often the crucial vote is a second reading amendment, as it was here. Every vote should be a record vote.

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