Before election day, when it still seemed as if Tom Craddick might win reelection as speaker, Terral Smith told me about what he hoped to do with committee assignments. Rather than use vice-chairmanships as a reward for loyal team members, Smith wanted to replicate the relationship between Rob Eissler and Scott Hochberg in Public Education. He hoped to have a strong Democratic vice-chair in every substantive committee. This would resemble what occurs in Congress, where the majority party has the chairmanship and the senior member of the minority party is the ranking member. On most congressional committees, these relationships are very good. I thought it was a great idea, but neither Terral nor I was sure that Craddick would agree to it. I hear that they have had other things on their minds since then. I think it would serve Straus and the House well if the vice- chairmanships became meaningful positions, something more than an opportunity to mount a gavel on a wall plaque. The vice-chair should be a strong member from the opposite party of the chairman. This situation would formalize working across party lines. Note to would-be commenters: Just because it came out of Craddick’s office doesn’t mean it is a bad idea.
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