Friday, December 5, is going to be an important day—the first meeting of the working group on the House rules. This will be the first opportunity for members to learn what Tom Craddick and Terry Keel have cooked up for the next session. Will they attempt to limit parliamentary inquiries, as Keel hinted after the 2007 session? This would be a serious intrusion on the members’ rights, as parliamentary inquiries are the only way to hold the speaker accountable for his rulings and his method of running the House. Will the infamous rule giving Craddick absolute power be modified? (If so, the likelihood is that the requirement for removing the speaker is going to be a supermajority, say 90 votes.) The working group meeting raises the possibility of a clash between Keel and Burt Solomons, a speaker candidate, that could spill over to the first day of the session. Let’s leap ahead a bit to January 13, the first day of the session. At noon, when the House is gaveled into session, Secretary of State Hope Andrade will be the presiding officer. The order of business calls for a brief address by the secretary of state. At this point, there is no speaker, there is no parliamentarian, and there is no Legislature. The first order of business will be the appointment of temporary officers. These include various clerks, the sergeant-at-arms, and [drumroll, please] the parliamentarian. In 2007, the secretary of state had the reading clerk announce the list of temporary officers. There was no vote on the temporary officers because the legislators had not yet taken their oaths of office. The secretary of state then asked the chief clerk to call the roll of members elect, following which the clerk administered the oath of office. The clerk determined that a quorum was present. The House then stood at ease for the departure of guests. When the House was called to order, the first business was the approval of temporary officers. The Journal does not indicate whether the officers were approved, or what action was taken to approve them. That smooth process will not happen this year. If Terry Keel is the temporary parliamentarian, he is not getting any free rides. Someone is going to make a motion to sever his name and reject him as parliamentarian. And then all hell is going to break loose. What happens if Keel advises Hope Andrade that she can refuse to recognize whoever makes the motion? The vote over temporary parliamentarian will be the test vote for speaker. The next action taken will be the adoption of temporary rules. The Journal says: Representatives Van Arsdale and Miller moved to adopt the house rules of procedure from the Seventy-Ninth Legislature as temporary rules for the election of the speaker. The motion prevailed. There is no way that the insurgents are going to let Keel be House parliamentarian—or let him use temporary rules that he has written, or that were used in the 80th Legislature, along with interpretations that Keel provided as parliamentarian—without a fight.
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