Foolishness, hypocrisy, Texas State House; a lot of redundancy there, we know. Still, this last Tuesday saw such a glaring display of it, it could not pass without comment- and listing the hypocrites involved. A vote was taken on sunset legislation necessary to renew the Lottery Commission (HB2197), while Joe Straus wasn’t present and they had Linda-Harper Brown on the gavel. There are people who oppose the lottery in general as the state should not be in the gambling business (especially one whose payout is far worse than any casino)- generally social conservatives. Others- mainly liberal Democrats- object to it because the poor are the main payors of this voluntary tax and don’t like the drain on the community. But all of those are generally defeated by those pragmatists in the middle who buy and sell votes less ‘burdened’ by principle, the vast majority of the house.
This time though, some of that vast middle decided they needed to show the folks they are ‘anti-gambling’. Obviously in preparation for the casino joint resolution that will come up later- and these folks likely will support to ‘give people a say’; in the presence of 10s of million in campaign money from casino interests. Unfortunately, too many of the ‘vast middle’ decided they needed this ‘show vote’ and they actually managed to dissolve the Lottery Commission by a vote of 65-81!
Mind you, in doing so, not only would end up dissolving the lottery and it’s billion dollar income to education, it would dissolve the charity bingo in every VFW hall in the state! Yeah, THAT would be popular! Of course, Linda-Harper Brown was stunned and the leadership of the House started scrambling around to arrange a ‘reconsideration. The house went ‘at ease and they turned off the public microphone as the bullwhips cracked and salty language undoubtedly flew. In the interim, David Simpson pulled a brilliant piece of theater by proposing to reduce the school year three days to make up for the lottery loss; pointing out how little of education it actually pays for! Simpson’s proposal actually got 90 votes! (but needed 4/5ths to pass, as everyone knew.) After that, they got a ‘reconsideration’ vote cast with Bonnen replacing Linda-Harper Brown at the podium. With the vote originally 54 STILL in opposed (but later ‘corrected’ in the record as 110 in favor and 37 opposed) and the lottery commission passed in ‘reconsideration’.
But this debacle DID uncover a block of hypocrites (or overly- ignorant or inattentive) who switched their votes there on the floor. The ones who voted consistently in opposition or in favor are to be commended for their consistency and attentiveness on a bill completely unchanged from one vote to the next; whether you agree with their position or not. But the block of ‘switchers’ deserve a certain level of publicity and derision (and this block is based on the ORIGINAL vote, not how it was later recorded in the journal to give cover to some of them.) The switchers include the following (with a few locals in bold):
Aycock; Bohac; Branch; Burnam; Callegari; Cook; Craddick; Crownover; Dale; Darby; Davis, J.; Davis, S.; Farney; Gonzales; Huberty; Kacal; King, S.; Kleinschmidt; Kolkhorst; Larson; Patrick; Sheffield, J.; Villalba; Villarreal; Vo; Walle;
Hardly the most devastating piece of legislative buffoonery in Texas history, but still one instructive in the sausage-making that is going on in the pink building in Austin.