New House, New House Rules

Reps reform committees, re-confirm limits on speaker's powers

Rep. Dunnam:
Rep. Dunnam: "Luckily, each new legislature is not bound by the last one. You start with a clean slate, and today was a good start."

Speaker Joe Straus may not be making his committee announcements until nearer Valentine's Day, but with the passage of House Resolution 2, the House Rules, at least he knows what committees there are to fill.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, admitted, "For most people, rules are like watching paint dry, but they are important, and now we know what they are, Joe will interpret them and enforce them. That's where the test comes down."

The rules clarify what it takes to replace a speaker (after much argument, a simple majority) but the biggest shake-outs were in committees: Fewer committees and fewer chairs; Several agencies and the bills that relate to them shifted around; and more members on the remaining committees, which Dunnam whole-heartedly supports. "You'd think," he said, "that with fewer members they'd have more influence, but you can stack committees and artificially make them sway one way or the other."

Most importantly, the newly-bolstered State Affairs becomes so important that neither its chair nor that of appropriations can sit on another substantive committee. Dunnam called it "a new super-committee, or rather the old super-committee come back. It's good that we've got this new 15-member committee that has a great degree of responsibilities on important issues in the state. That seemed to work well in the 90s."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More 81st Legislature
The Senate Shuffle
The Senate Shuffle
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst makes surprise committee switches

Richard Whittaker, July 14, 2010

The Four Horsemen of the Deficit
The Four Horsemen of the Deficit
Examining the new House committees on state spending

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 13, 2010

More Texas House of Representatives
Dawnna Dukes' Charges Dropped
Dawnna Dukes' Charges Dropped
13 felonies gone, two misdemeanors resolved

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 24, 2017

Houston Voters Say No to
Houston Voters Say No to "Robin Hood"
HISD rejects making school finance payments

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 15, 2016

More by Richard Whittaker
The Nest
Pretense and aspiration collapse in this dour relationship drama

Sept. 18, 2020

Alone
Neo-slasher is quietly effective and bloodily harsh

Sept. 18, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

81st Legislature, Texas House of Representatives, Jim Dunnam, House Rules

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle