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House passes rules for session

Filed under: — SoniaS @ 12:10 am

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AAS Article 1/13/07
Members address gifts, lobbyists, votes

(first up at bat - power hitter Thompson)

Texas House members, who often give one another presents at the end of legislative sessions, voted Friday to cap each gift’s value at $75.

The threshold, requested by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, surfaced in the wake of a Texas Ethics Commission holding last year that such gifts do not have to be described by state officials in detail; state law requires officials to name anyone who gives a gift exceeding $250 in value.

That’s our Senfronia getting back in the game and going after those loopholes!

(stepping up to the plate, rising star Garcia)

A freshman Democrat couldn’t persuade a majority to require the recording of member votes when House proposals are initially approved or disapproved, though Rep. Juan Garcia of Corpus Christi gained a stipulation that recorded votes be posted online within an hour.

Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, prevailed on colleagues to stick with his proposal requiring the recording of member votes only on final passage of proposals. Critics have said such final approvals are perfunctory and less meaningful indicators of how members voted at crunch time.

Garcia, trumpeting transparency in government and greater accountability, initially won approval of his call for recording more votes. Then, he agreed to reconsideration after some members said they hadn’t realized what they’d approved.

Oh, Juan had them, he had them. They actually voted for his amendment and then asked for a do-over. Well at least he accomplished two things. One he followed through on a promise to his constituents. And second he got the compromise to have recorded votes be posted online within an hour. It’s a start. We still have to get full recorded votes mandated for all votes this session.

Good game!

2 Responses to “House passes rules for session”

  1. SoniaS Says:

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    Democrats Win Major Rules Changes In Texas House
    via Capitol Annex
    Press release from Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco), chair of the House Democratic Caucus

    Sunday January 14th 2007, 6:53 pm

    Democrats Lead House to Open Government Victories

    AUSTIN– Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) and House Democrats won major open government victories today by using amendments to internal House rules to clean up the People’s House. The slate of rules reforms proposed by the House Democrats called for the most open and transparent session in Texas history.

    “The only antidote to a culture of corruption is a bright light shining on it,” said Rep. Dunnam. “We’re here to do the people’s work and they deserve to see as much of the process as we do.”

    Freshman Juan Garcia (D-Corpus Christi) led the charge and scored the biggest victory of the day. Rep. Garcia succeeded in gaining House approval to change the rules governing record votes. Under Rep. Garcia’s amendment, all votes for final passage will be recorded and available to the public on the Internet within an hour after they take place.

    Mexican-American Legislative Caucus Chair Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) won real-time access to amendments so that citizens can follow House debates, while Legislative Study Group Chair Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) and Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) gained provisions to ensure that members and the public have timely information on the financial impact of late-session changes to legislation.

    Democrats also opened more House documents and records to the public. Democrats offered new rules provisions to restrict access of lobbyists to private House chambers, ban secret committee meetings and apply open meetings standards to House committee business. These changes were rebuffed by the House Republican majority in the contentious debate.

    With 26 new members and an unusual Speaker’s race to start the session, the Democrats went on the offensive, offering up changes to the way the House does business. Since it is highly unlikely the House will consider any major open government legislation this session, today’s debate reinforced the Democratic commitment to honest and ethical government.

    “Democratic commitment to honest and ethical government” Outstanding! Good try for our side.

  2. site admin Says:

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    excellent for Juan Garcia, Gallego, and the Democrats for follow-through on why, in part, they were elected by the people.

    Add some more light, with Eddie Rodriguez’s blogger access bill, and we will have a real potential citizen-access-to-govt bill of rights going.

    thanks for the news Sonia!

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