The answer is: Rodney Ellis. On the last day of the session, Ellis has become the key player, because he is effectively the minority leader of the Democrats–not just the Senate Democrats, but also the House Democrats. The nineteen Senate Republicans will need at least six Democratic votes to suspend the rules so that the Senate can vote on SB 1811, the school finance/fiscal matters bill, and unless something changes, they have one (maybe Hinojosa). Republicans (and I assume this includes the light guv) have been warning the D’s that they can make the school plan worse, but the Democrats seem to regard this as an empty threat at this point. Any time that one side draws a line in the dirt, as the Democrats have done here, the question is: What is the end game? (See, Whitmire, John, Albuquerque 2003). The situation reminds me of a deadlock that took place in the House on the last night of 1999 session. Sylvester Turner was blocking (if I remember correctly), a tax cut sought by Governor Bush. For two hours everybody just stood around and waited for something to be resolved. Speaker Laney was walking around the floor as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I asked him what the situation was. “Well,” he drawled,” “they have taken the hostages, but they can’t figure out what to put in the ransom note.” That is the situation Ellis finds himself in today. He’s holding the Senate Republican majority hostage, but if negotiations follow, what, exactly, do he and the Democrats want–and is it attainable?
Politics & Policy