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.