Liveblogging the Lege Part Two

And the fun begins … well, not really. Just finished reading a resolution kicking House floor onlookers outta chambers. We waited so long for this?

The ceaseless pauses give credence to speculation that Craddick's using the time to squeeze every pair he can get his hands on. Hmmm, that's a pretty nasty image.

Secretary of State Whitey Williams says a document delineating what both parties agree to in the election is coming to members' desks. Seriously, let's get some amateur videographers on those House staffers and throw that shit up on YouTube, à la the Craddick D's – maybe it'll speed things up a bit.

Still nothing. What BS. If Craddick isn't using this time to bust out the vise grip, I'll be the next speaker. Ten bucks he poured a Diet Coke in the Xerox machine.

HR 35, the voting procedure bill, is finally laid out and ready to take amendments.

Voting procedures: Paper ballots. Counted on House floor. Gotta have name and signature though. Still, I don't put a Florida-style fiasco outta reach here.

"A group of House has-beens" from the Senate invade the House to pal around. Buffet's on in 20 minutes, says Jim Keffer. You know Elliott Naishtat's ears perked up at that one.

So save some pretty egregious amendment, the ballots are secret. Doesn't bode well for Craddick, no? Eiland says one amendment would make votes public today, whereas one from Geren would make it confidential until after committee assignments. Still, a third would shred 'em once they're tabbed, secret forever! Good gawd.

Continued below the fold.

Still nothing, as we wait for amendments to get filed. This liveblog sounded all cutesy when I started, but it is turning into one huge time suck. At least velvet-voiced Craddick D Harold Dutton is on the mic now. I could listen to that man read the phone book.

Republican Phil King is trying to screw the pooch via his parliamentary read that if any member wants a record vote, it has to be offered, killing the secret ballot.

Jesus Christ, this thing has more dead air than a morgue ventilator shaft. WTF?

Senfronia (I think) just inquired if they would consider delaying the vote until Thursday. Well, at this rate …

Williams just said all the members have two amendments regarding open or secret ballots to consider. Oops. Geren just forcefully clarified that neither one calls for secrecy.

Phil King is back, worried that he might be held responsible and accountable for our voting behavior – so let's not do anything.

What? Now a fucking coin-toss will clarify which amendment goes up first.

Richard Whitaker, foolishly taking over from Mr. Dunbar for a few moments, just as the debate enters a period of very serious milling around.

Craig Eiland from Galveston just made the most sensible and pertinent statement of the day - that they would ask for judicial advice on some obscure point of law, but the judges all got bored and went home. I sense ennui may be setting in.

Yay! Phil King is back! Tragically, it's only to get the answer to his last question. However, in an important clarification, the results of a secret ballot on Tom's future (if they go that way) will not be subject to the Open Records Act. So Tom's friends are free to smile to him in public but still vote against him in privacy.

Everyone has been ordered back to their seats. When they leave, will they have to hold hands and head for nap time?

Hartnett from Dallas won the coin-toss (why didn't they show that, just to relieve the tension?) so he gets to submit his amendment first. For fans of parliamentary logistics, he's suggesting a paper ballot, which will be placed in a box, counted, a tally sheet issued to all members, and then it becomes a record vote. Apparently the only difference between his amendment and the other option is when the ballot will be released - before or after the committees are assigned. That's what we've been waiting on?

And now we're arguing about what "immediate" means. Grab a dictionary, and forward it to the lege ASAP!

Is no-one on the floor getting the irony of spending 10 minutes arguing about the definition of immediate?

So here's what the real argument is about now: Should the ballots be shown, with the names attached, be released before of after the committee assignments? Yup, there's a lot of people on the floor hoping to be safely ensconced in a committee before the vendettas and blood-letting begins.

Elder statesman Paul Moreno has taken the mic, and made an applause-winning statement that made Hartnett look even smaller. As one of only two people who remember a speaker race like this (the other being Craddick himself) his vote for some protective privacy until after the committees are picked could carry some weight.

Carrolton's Jim Jackson just got hustled in to talk about personal honor, in desperate rebuttal of the last five speakers and prop up Hartnett's amendment.

Iiiiiiit's King time! There's an amendment to the amendment that King thinks is unconstitutional, so it's back to some serious milling around while point of order is argued over ...

New liveblog entry here.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Elections, Legislature, Politics, Tom Craddick, Jim Pitts, Speaker Race

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