The Austin Chronicle

The Abbott Advisories, Part 2

By Richard Whittaker, August 4, 2007, 10:34am, Newsdesk

First the Craddick-boosters got their say: now comes a 29 page, footnoted legal tome from his foes. Six senior Republicans have answered Attorney General Greg Abbott's call for advisories on whether the Speaker exceeded his powers last session, and they say he did.

Let's CliffsNotes their argument for you: since the speaker is not classified in the Texas constitution as an officer of the state, they cannot be impeached. This means removal is a House issue, and the House rules do not say, as some people have held, that there can only be one speaker vote per session, nor that the winner automatically holds the post and wields the gavel for two years. Instead, the Constitution says, implicitly, that any quorate House can hold a speaker vote any time they feel.

With us so far?

Now for the important part. The advisory contends that, yes, the speaker has the right to ignore motions from the floor, or nothing would ever get done (and anyone that has seen the House in full screaming-match session knows that to be true.) However, and this is the important bit, the speaker can't just ignore a motion. Instead, he has to ask what it is before letting it be taken up. Now this means that he would know whether it was some time-wasting exercise or a serious matter. (Keep up, we're almost there.) Now since the right to pick a new speaker is a Constitutional matter, and not just some House rules, it would automatically count as important enough that the Speaker would have to hear the motion and, if the House agrees, let it come to a vote.

Hey, it's a legal advisory, you were hoping for something pithy?

As for the signatories, there's: Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks; Todd Smith, R-Bedford; Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock; Brian McCall, R-Plano; Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso; and Kirk England, R-Grand Prairie.

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