First Things First: Speaker of the Texas House
By Mary Huls Candidate for Texas House, District 129 www.ElectMaryHuls.com
“What will you do on your first day as a Representative in the Texas House?” As a grassroots candidate, I get this question all the time. Will it be an education bill? File legislation protecting property rights? Or should I do something that would help dig us out of the budget hole the 82nd legislature left us. As I thought about the question and all of the issues that need addressing, I realized that there was something very important I could do on my first day in office that would be as significant as anything else I would do during the entire session. With the first order of House business I will oppose Joe Straus and vote for a true conservative for Speaker of the Texas House.
As a citizen lobbyist during the last legislative session, I learned an incredible amount of how things work in Austin. Shortly, after the Republican victories in 2010 in November, I was looking forward to some downtime for all the campaigning and activism. You know, watch some football and get ready for the holidays. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned.
In less than a week, the grassroots started an initiative to ensure that Texas
got a conservative Speaker that reflected the will of the Texas voters. That meant opposing Straus as the sitting Speaker! To the tea party grassroots, this was a no brainer. Straus was first elected to the House in 2005 during a special election. After just serving 2 terms, with the help of 11 liberal Republicans and the majority of the Democratic House Caucus, he engineered a coup against a fellow Republican Speaker that he had “pledged” to support. But what I really found amazing was even after the disgraceful way Straus got to the Speakership was the way the majority of the Republicans caved in to the power of the Speaker after just a single session. We were told he was a “conservative” and had worked for the Reagan Administration. Do you think for a minute that Ronald Reagan would have put up with anyone who betrayed the Party as he had done? He claimed to represent both Republicans and Democrats, and in that respect, he told the truth – in the 81st legislature he appointed many Democrats to the most important committees as political payback and he supported Democratic incumbents over Republican challengers by helping their campaigns with fundraising.
Although armed with the truth, we were unable to prevent his re-election as Speaker. We had asked for a Republican House Caucus secret ballot and were betrayed by Larry Taylor, Caucus Chair and Straus lieutenant. Most of his supporters claimed a point of personal honor because they signed a “pledge” card. The very same one he had signed for Craddick before ousting the former Republican Speaker. Today, no one admits to signing a “pledge” card after daylight we shined on the process. Straus said that he would not take revenge on the principled conservatives that had voted against him on the House floor. Yet, many of those same conservatives were “paired” during the redistricting process or had their districts changed. More importantly, many conservative bills died at the hands of Straus appointed Committee Chairs. Not to be outdone, Speaker Straus personally killed the Anti-Groping TSA bill written to protect Texans 4th Amendment rights.
But all that is in the past. The reason that I would cast my first vote against Straus is what lies ahead for Texas. Facing a predetermined massive budget shortfall, Joe Straus has already stated that “We can’t cut our way to prosperity” meaning that he will be looking to raise revenues either through a State wage tax (against the Texas State Constitution) or through legalized gambling (the family business). With Straus passing up the chance to get structural budgets reform done in the last session, how can we expect him to take up the challenge in the upcoming session. This past legislative session saw many of the Republican House members cut their own staff budgets as a show of good faith for spending cuts; the Speaker used the savings to create two more committees.
My opponent has openly declared his support for Straus to continue as the Texas House Speaker (but he also wouldn’t sign a pledge card). It’s not surprising that the third most liberal Republican member of the House would be an ardent supporter. Indeed, it is not unusual for moderates to support the Speaker since he has said that he would not support any changes to the status-quo on abortion, his family’s ties to Planned Parenthood, and his most recent endorsement of Mitt Romney. In my opinion, the most egregious violation is continuing to support liberal challengers to Conservatives.
“We Lose Texas We Lose the USA” – Doc Holladay
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