Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 17: Apres I.D., Le Deluge

Today is the 17th day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House will reconvene at 10 am, the Senate has adjourned until Monday.

Thursdays tend to be pretty slow around the capitol for the first couple of months since legislators are generally in their district offices on Fridays and many of them head out on Thursday afternoons. There are a handful of press conferences and briefings around the building today, and the Texas Retail Association will be talking about the life of a grocery bag on the South Steps at 11:00 am.

Everybody is going to be talking about voter ID/suppression which passed out of the Senate on strictly partisan lines yesterday after a marathon session of attempted amendments. The House will still have to debate their version and one of the Senate amendments required the State budget fund the implementation of new identification rules - so the debate is far from over. Now that the Senate has voter suppression (mostly) off their plate things should really start moving on that side of the building.

House members are supposed to turn in their preferences for committee assignments by tomorrow. House committee membership is determined by a mixture of personal preference and speaker selection. Half of the members of any committee are there because they requested to be and have the seniority to get what they want. The other half are selected by the Speaker, who also selects the chairperson of each committee. Since a majority of the committee may override the chairperson Speaker Straus must carefully consider his assignments to avoid creating committees which may try to usurp his hand-chosen chairs.

I know I've said this before, but expect committee assignments next week.

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