For the Eighty-second Legislature (our twentieth at the Capitol), everything old was new again: the state faced a budget deficit; the governor harbored presidential ambitions; the members of the Best list were hard to find; and the names on the Worst list picked themselves.
It was a session like no other: different rules, new power players, a surprise trip to Oklahoma, and the small matter of a $9.9 billion budget shortfall. All of which made it tricky to separate the heroes from the zeroes. But we did.
July 1, 2003 | Feature
Proving the skeptics wrong, the Eighty-third Legislature accomplished most of what it planned to do. Our twenty-third roundup of the Capitol’s saints and sinners reveals who we can thank—and who we needn’t.
From Bush’s good try on property taxes to Bullock’s grand finale, from savvy Sadler to weaselly Wohlgemuth, from Duncan’s beginning to Howard’s end: Our sorting of the session’s standouts—best, worst, and in between.
The eightieth session began with a Speaker’s race, ended with a Speaker’s race, and was consumed in between by the usual mix of nuanced issues and nasty politics. Along the way, a handful of lawmakers put the common good ahead of all else. And a handful of lawmakers didn’t.
Naughty Nixon and wonderful Wolens, soapy Shapiro and revered Ratliff, and of course, a certain governor who’s ready for his close-up: Our say-so on the session’s standouts—good, bad, and in-between.
A few lawmakers in both parties distinguished themselves during one of the worst sessions anyone can remember. As for the rest? Well, in the words of Jon Stewart, that famous observer of Texas politics: not so much.