The retirement of Jim Pitts from the House of Representatives is a sad day. Pitts, who was named a Best this past session, was one of the original eleven Republicans who met to choose a new speaker in 2009 to succeed Tom Craddick. That speaker, of course, turned out to be Joe Straus.
(Editor’s note: Every week, for the remainder of the legislative session, BurkaBlog will be publishing an original column by R.G. Ratcliffe, who was the state political reporter for the Houston Chronicle for twenty years. During those two decades, I’ve known R.G., who resigned from the Chronicle in February to work on a book, to be one of the most trusted voices in the Capitol press corps. I’m thrilled to have him posting here. His columns will offer a deeper take on one of the week’s top stories. –P.B.)
No big surprise: Pitts, Raymond, Otto, McClendon, Zerwas.
Dunnam moved to instruct the conferees to meet publicly, in accordance with House rules. The motion was adopted without objection. I asked Chisum, the previous chair, what he thought the Senate would do. "Pend everything," he said. Too bad. It was high drama when the meetings really were public.
The Senate lineup is missing two of its heavy hitters from previous years, Duncan and Zaffirini. The House does not have a conferee who served on its education subcommittee.
Committee appointments will be the first real test of the Straus speakership. How many of the 149 members can he satisfy? Here are some of the problems he will face:
The long Christmas weekend is about over. Keep an eye on the Ethics Commission tomorrow (Monday) for new filings for speaker. Gattis is a possibility. McCall is a possibility. It was this time last year that he filed.
I talked to one of the ABC's on Saturday. He said that no more names of supporters are going to come out before the January 2 meeting from which a speaker candidate will emerge. Nobody wants to paint a target on his back and subject himself to pressure.