Liveblogging the Lege Part Three

Point of order, people!

Oh great, now it's going to be 15 minutes until they resolve the amendment. Get familiar with the previous entries below, if you will. Thanks to Richard for blogging in my absence.

So for those of you just tuning in, here's what you've missed: jack-fucking-shit. We've spent almost four hours now delicately tinkering with the machinery of the speaker election, and getting copies xeroxed, along with any manner of assorted ephemera and goings on. It's next to impossible not to suspect that this has been a ploy for some last-minute lobbying. I don't know why we held out hope anything would be different, though. Call us romantic.

Is it just us, or has the gavel gotten bigger this session? The clerk is reading the opinion on King's objection to the secret ballot. You can't tell me they didn't think of this until now. It's a constitutional crisis!

Oh, for fuck's sake, secret ballots have been used 50 times before, we learn. King needs to loose his Craddick-inspired boner for "transparency."

The legal prattle goes on. My toss-off joke about Florida is looking more apt.

"The members must make these decisions themselves." Point of order overruled. Thank fucking God. Roger Williams looks like he's in waaaaay over his head. Still, the Craddick-heads can't let it go. Unbelievably, there's another pause to consider whether their hope that three requests for a record vote can overturn the secret ballot. Didn't we just learn no? Follow us below the fold.

The chair won't grant the record vote.

Now Craddick lickspittle No. 26 wants a verification of the vote. The bastard's trying to drag out every thing he can for him. He's saying the race'll be fixed if you can't verify. For shame! Williams, as secretary of state, sounds a little pissed!

Geren's making a push for his amendment to the amendment – which releases names after committee assignments. Robert Talton says confidential kaaahn-fuhh-den-shull.

There's a motion to table Geren's amendment. Craig Eiland "spells it out for the freshmen" – literally, he's saying the green light means yes. Simple, but he's doing a good job of breaking down what's at stake.

"Doc" Anderson is talking about courage and the fucking Alamo. "And the question is?" Eiland asks, to applause. "I would not belittle the Alamo by comparing it to the election of the speaker of the House." The crowd goes apeshit.

Motion to table up for vote: Motion to table prevails!

(Richard Whittaker, tagging back in for Wells) And the action speeds up - straight into the vote on Hartnett's amendment.

Survey says ... Hartnett's amendment is adopted!

And now the senate sends a messenger - which no-one understood. So Tommy Merrick from Longview has launched into a remarkable and incomprehensible ramble that has, within two minutes, mentioned children, the founding of Texas, flags, the book of Genesis, rainbows, noble sacrifices in Iraq, and his friend Terry. What rainbows have to do with secret ballots has yet to be revealed.

Merrick disappeared for a moment. To collect his props. Apparently, his amendment is endorsed by Carrot Top.

Now he's quoting Churchill. Is Merrick's tactic here that Craddick's authority becomes moribund without a vote because we'll all have died of old age before he finishes this speech?

Apparently, after all that, Merrick is taking the bold and seemingly unprecedented stand of believing in sealed ballots. As he points out, the ballot for freshman rep is sealed - shouldn't the same courtesy be extended to the election of speaker?

Count the vote, burn the ballot, and see off any threats from lobbyists. That's what Merrick argues. How deep will the bloodletting go if the ballot is made public, before or after committees are picked?

Merrick's amendment gets tabled. Still, the secret vote option may not be dead yet.

Quick note - Rep. Wayne Smith's mother just died. Sad day for her family.

Finally, HR 35 goes to the vote.

132 ayes, 16 nays, HR 35 gets the nod. Hartnett gets his way.

Well, at least all that's settled and we can all go home ... no, no wait ... there's something else ... some small matter of business ... oh, yeah, the actual vote for speaker that we've waded all day through parliamentary waffle to get through.

Sounds like we typed too soon. Another resolution is being prepared for delivery to the desks.

HR 36 has just been delivered to the desks. And there's another amendment coming down the pipe, too. Grab a pillow and some caffeine, this could take a while.

HR 36 - apparently, it might be a good idea if the candidates have 10 minutes to address the house. Freshmen Allen Vaught from Dallas, who taught democracy in Fallujah three years ago, is now teaching democracy to the Texas legislature. As speeches from a virgin legislator go, it could have been worse. Except that the resolution it supported has now been withdrawn. Bad luck, Al.

And now Jim Pitts is up. Oh, no, he's taking about healing the house ... can only mean one thing. He's withdrawing from the race, because of one reason: his supporters have told him they were too scared of a public ballot to publicly support him. Merrick's lobbyists and the vengeful committee selection process seem to have won the day.

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