Speaker Straus will face one of his most difficult decisions this week: Who will be the conference committee for SB1? The members who know the budget inside out–Turner, Kolkhorst, Gattis–aren’t on Appropriations, and the members who are, well, let’s just say that this isn’t the strongest appropriations committee ever assembled. I don’t think I have ever seen a group who asked fewer questions of witnesses. I’m going to let readers pick their own committees. Here are the basic rules. (1) 3 R’s, 2 D’s. (2) Every constituency must be represented: R, D, white, black, brown, female. (3) The House is going up against Ogden, Duncan, Zaffirini, Williams, and West (at least that’s my guess), so you had better find some tough folks who can stand up against veteran senators. If Straus goes by talent alone, the House conferees should be Pitts, Zerwas, Otto, Eiland, and Hochberg. He can’t do it. That’s five white guys, and he stiffs Raymond, the Hispanic vice-chair of the committee. Here are the remaining choices: Republicans: Aycock, Fred Brown, Button, Creighton, Crownover, Darby, Driver, Isett, King, Morrison, Doug Miller, Otto, Riddle, Zerwas. Democrats: Chavez, Cohen, Darby, Dukes, Edwards, Eiland, Flores, Giddings, Herrero, Hochbert, McClendon, Raymond, Villareal. I wonder if Straus realized, when he made Raymond vice-chairman, that he had to put him on the conference committee. I don’t think Raymond is ready for prime time, but it doesn’t matter. He’ll be one of the conferees. That means either Eiland or Hochberg will not be appointed–and maybe both. Straus has to have an African-American on the committee (all five are former Craddick D’s), so the second Democrat spot will probably go to McClendon, who gets bonus points for being from San Antonio. On the Republican side, Pitts needs Zerwas on megacomplicated Article II. Isett will have his hands full with Sunset and can’t be off the floor for long periods of time, so I’m giving the third spot to Otto by default.
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