In the ongoing sniper fire that is taking place between Senate Finance chair Tommy Williams and Education chair Dan Patrick, I am in total agreement with Williams. If you are appointed to the Finance committee, you are obligated to support the committee’s work. This has been the practice for as long as I can remember. It was enforced in the Senate when I worked for Babe Schwartz (1968-73), when he was a member of what was then called the Finance subcommittee (a pre-appointed panel of five conferees-to-be). It’s not optional. There is an unwritten code of behavior in the Legislature that good members learn by observing, and this is central to it: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t ask to be put on major committee, like Finance, and then vote against the bill. It is an affront to one’s colleagues and their hard work.
This is classic Dan Patrick. He defends himself with homilies like, “(M)y first priority is to represent the people of my district and my conservative principles” and “I didn’t know that if you were on Finance you had to follow lock step behind the leader and vote how he demands.” (This is nonsense. Of course he knew he was supposed to vote for the bill. He just wanted to vote no.) “His attack on me is a classic example of a politician who has forgotten that we represent the people first and foremost. I don’t have to explain my vote to Tommy Williams. I have to explain my vote to the people and I’m happy to do that.” As I said, classic Dan Patrick.