Joe Straus, a Republican with poor conservative credentials, connived with 65 Democrats and 11 “moderate” Republicans to take over the speaker of the house for the 81st session in 2009, a betrayal of the other Republican members and the voters who elected them. It is a well know story in political circles how Democrats were allegedly rewarded for their votes with prominent committee positions. As a result, the Democrats were able to substantially block the conservative Republican agenda in the 81st legislature in Texas.
Texas Tea Party activism in the 2010 elections helped elect a conservative Republican super majority to the Texas house to begin the following year. In order to not repeat the disastrous performance by Straus in the 81st legislature, the Texas Tea Parties actively tried to obtain support during the period between the elections and the start of the 82nd legislature to defeat Straus’ re-election as Speaker of the House. However, despite massive grassroots efforts, little success was realized, thus putting the conservative agenda again in jeopardy.
Straus accomplished his re-election as speaker by employing some in-your-face tactics. He actively supported at least one Democrat during the 2010 elections and campaigned against none even though he was the leader of the Republican house. On the Republican side, campaign contributions and committee assignments were apparently doled out to Straus supporters. Allegations of using redistricting as a hammer to squash those opposing Straus’ re-election as Speaker were leveled by Representative Bryan Hughes of Mineola. Even though Hughes testified under oath before the House Ethics Committee, Committee Chair and recipient of $42K in campaign contributions from Straus, Representative Chuck Hobson found no evidence of ethics violations. These tactics were successful because only 15 of the 101 Republicans voted against his re-election as Speaker.
No doubt the opposition he received from the Texas Tea Parties and the “Texas 15” had some effect on committee assignments and legislation passed during the 82nd sessions. The average conservative ranking of the committee chairs improved a little from 43 in the 81st to 57 in the 82nd, still a long distance from a respectable conservative ranking of between 70 and 100. Also a third of the committees were chaired by Democrats down from half in the previous session. However, many of the remaining assignments went to his closest allies. Some important conservative bills were passed by the Republicans that controlled the house, senate and governorship including a bill to require women seeking an abortion to view a sonogram of her unborn baby and wait 24 hours before the procedure, a voter photo ID law, a bill defunding planned parenthood, gun rights legislation and loser pays for frivolous law suits bill.
However, as feared, his speakership during the 82nd legislature thwarted many objectives of the Tea Party and other conservatives. Some bills that would be law if not killed by the house were a ban on sanctuary cities, calling for a constitutional convention for a federal balanced budget amendment, the popular TSA anti-groping bill which Straus personally refused to bring to the floor, a bill to allow home schoolers to participate in public extra-curricular activities, an interstate compact on healthcare to oppose ObamaCare, a government reform bill, and the American Laws for American Courts bill that would prevent Sharia Laws from being used in our courts. But the house did pass, with his full support, the Solomons’ redistricting map that apparently carried out the threat to punish his Republican enemies.
To quantify the ability to deny the will of this super majority Republican house, bills that support Tea Party and conservative objectives authored by conservative Republicans were tracked. The conservatives had rating greater than 80. The objectives considered included ObamaCare issues related to mandates, tenth amendment and state sovereignty issues, abortion, immigration, religious freedom, home schooling, and voter registration issues. There were 62 bills authored or co-authored by these Republicans related to at least one of these issues. Of these 62 bills, only one became law and that was to urge the federal congress to propose a balanced budget amendment.
This continued unacceptable performance by this speaker has led to the decision by the Tea Parties of Texas to attempt to prevent not only his re-election as speaker of the 83rd legislature in 2013, but his very election to the House of Representatives.
Posted by: A Federalist
More Info on Joe Straus at Ramparts360.com