Best and Worst Legislators

Best and Worst Legislators

Roundups of lawmakers who made Texas proud or made us scratch our heads during the legislative session

News & Politics |
June 23, 2015

The Leadership

Governor Greg AbbottOf all the leaders entering the legislative session, the biggest question mark centered on Greg Abbott, the first new governor in Texas in fourteen years. The attorney general since 2002, he led the Republican ticket last November and walloped Democrat Wendy Davis in the

News & Politics |
July 11, 2013

The Best and Worst Legislators 2011

For the Eighty-second Legislature (our twentieth at the Capitol), everything old was new again: the state faced a budget deficit; the governor harbored presidential ambitions; the members of the Best list were hard to find; and the names on the Worst list picked themselves.

News & Politics |
July 3, 2013

The Best and Worst Legislators 2009

The Eighty-First Legislature was like Seinfeld: a show about nothing. It was dominated by an event that was a year away, the looming 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary battle between Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, and by issues that were political rather than substantive, none more so than the session-long battle

News & Politics |
June 28, 2013

The Best and Worst Legislators of 2005

IMAGINE A KITTEN, VERY CURIOUS BUT EASILY FRIGHTENED: That was the Seventy-ninth Legislature. It poked around school finance, pawed at tax reform, heard loud shouts of “No!”, fled to Mama, curled up, and went to sleep. Lawmakers did a lot of exploring, learned a lot about the world, even grew

News & Politics |
January 21, 2013

Hall of Fame

Hugo Berlanga D–Corpus ChristiTenure: Representative from 1977 to 1999Number of times on the Best list: 3I was the first Hispanic speaker pro tempore in the history of the House. I served under Gib Lewis, and he later told me that the reason he selected me is that he needed someone who

Burka Blog |
June 15, 2011

Best & Worst Legislators: Who made the list?

Today TEXAS MONTHLY tweeted this year’s list of best and worst legislators. Here it is all in one place. The Best Dan Branch, R-Dallas. Senator Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland. Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio. Senator John Whitmire,

Burka Blog |
June 14, 2011

The Tribune Insiders’ Best and Worst list

The main comment I would make about the Texas Tribune‘s Insiders’ list is that it doesn’t have any criteria. And I realize that’s not its purpose. This is really more like a vote for eighth grade president. The only criteria is who do we like and who don’t

Burka Blog |
June 2, 2011

The Best and the Worst

Nominations are now open. The rules: no vulgarity, no sexual innuendo, no excessive demeaning of members of the Legislature Freshmen ARE eligible I will not publish nominations that violate the guidelines. If possible, be specific about the reasons for your choice. * * * * *

News & Politics |
June 30, 2009

2009: The Best and Worst Legislators

It was a new era at the Capitol, with a new Speaker and a new mood of peace, love, and bipartisanship in the war-torn House. But the eighty-first legislative session turned out to be a lot like the eighty that came before it—some heroes, some villains, and enough hot air

Burka Blog |
June 8, 2009

Debbie Riddle Responds

The following is a release from Representative Debbie Riddle, concerning her appearance on the Ten Worst list. I will reserve my remarks until the end.

Burka Blog |
May 27, 2009

Ten Best? We’d settle for five

The floor is now open for nominations for the Ten Best and Ten Worst lists. Readers should try to make a case for their nominees. Information about unethical conduct is always welcome, but please refrain from gratuitious personal comments about members.

Burka Blog |
May 12, 2009

The Lowly Senate

As I go about interviewing members of the Capitol community for the Best and Worst Legislators story, I have been surprised by the low regard for the Senate. I know no one is going to feel sorry for lobbyists, but … a recurring theme among this cursed crowd is that

News & Politics |
June 30, 2007

2007: The Best and Worst Legislators

The eightieth session began with a Speaker’s race, ended with a Speaker’s race, and was consumed in between by the usual mix of nuanced issues and nasty politics. Along the way, a handful of lawmakers put the common good ahead of all else. And a handful of lawmakers didn’t.

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Comic Relief

His true peers are not members of the Legislature but rather Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhite, and Duncan Phyfe: Like these names, that of Charles Finnell has become synonymous with “furniture”—a term that in Capitol parlance refers to those members who, by dint of their inactivity or incapacity to grasp what

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

A License to Be Bad

The best that can be said about him is that he could have been worse—and was, just last session. Faults ranging from pettiness to mendacity, which landed him on the Worst list in 1995 (when we described him as “one of the more dismal products of democracy to reach the

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Seldom Right

Before Kevin Bailey erupted this session, sixteen years had passed since the House had seen an outspoken liberal leader in action. An extra two years would have been a blessing. Bailey is a demagogue straight from the old school—disposed to make personal attacks, preferring cliché to argument, always righteous in

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Little Miss Perfect

Every Catholic girls’ school has one student who is Little Miss Perfect. To the endless irritation of her peers, she never misses class, always does her homework, raises her hand to answer every question, bosses her classmates around, and is as prudish and humorless as the nuns. But don’t

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Why? Why? Why?

Two veteran warriors are facing off, and the House is enjoying it immensely. Kim Brimer of Arlington, a former University of Houston football player and one of Speaker Laney’s chief lieutenants, is trying to pass his sports arena bill, which will let local governments use tax dollars to build stadiums

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Commonsense Conservatism

Remember the Sherlock Holmes story in which the great detective solves a mysterious death case because a dog did not bark at a thief in the night? The lesson is that what doesn’t happen can be just as important as what does happen—in crime or in the Legislature. (Please, no

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Play of the Year

Did he change the world? It’s too soon to tell. But this much is certain: Ron Wilson’s bill requiring scholarship athletes to meet regular admissions criteria at state universities was a stroke of legislative genius. Wilson, of course, was trying to make a point about the Hopwood decision, which

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Family Man

With his spectacles and bushy mustache, he looks like everybody’s favorite uncle, and appropriately, his niche in the Legislature is to take care of the kids: juvenile justice, safe schools, and adoption laws. In the age of family-values politics, Goodman brings a quiet rationality to issues that have been known

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Mr. Clout

The best tributes are the unexpected ones. As Senator David Sibley argued for his bill to halt the costly practice of school districts’ granting property-tax breaks to businesses, a seldom heard-from San Antonio Democrat named Greg Luna joined in the debate. “I’m so glad that a senator of your esteem

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

The Bill Doctor

Caught in a real-life episode of E.R., Senator Teel Bivins spent the final week of the legislative session performing triage on bills that were at death’s door. As our story begins, a perspiring Bivins frantically tries to revive Governor Bush’s charter schools program, which is among the 52 bills that

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Voting for the Children

At least he tried. He was the dominant figure in the session’s dominant issue, Governor Bush’s drive for significant property-tax relief, and he drove it farther than anyone thought possible, though not quite far enough. But the mere recapitulation of his role only begins to reflect what Paul Sadler

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Master of the Playground

Hugo Berlanga said at the start of the session that he was tired. The time had come to do something else. He was burned-out.Mark it down that this burnout had a long fuse. Hugo—he’s a first-name figure—had a session for the ages. Through behind-the-scenes negotiations and timely amendments, he influenced

Best and Worst Legislators |
June 30, 1997

Special Awards

Best PunGovernor George W. Bush. Explaining at a pre-session gridiron dinner how he had turned a deaf ear to his wife’s entreaties that he purchase new formal wear for the event, Bush said he told her, “Read my lips. No new tuxes.”Going…Going…GoneThe legislative leadership team had a lot more on

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