Image: Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Austin, January 13 – Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi didn’t hesitate to criticize new-re-elected Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, when Phelan refused even to allow a floor vote on the issue of whether committee chairmanships in the Texas House should only go to members of the majority political party, the Republican Party, which holds 86 of the 150 seats to only 64 for Democrats. One of the Legislative Priorities, which Republican Delegates adopted in 2022, was ban Democrat committee chairs in the Texas Legislature (“To ensure all legislative Republican priorities are given a fair opportunity to become law, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature shall adopt a rule that would end the practice of awarding committee chairmanships to Democrats”).
On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, Speaker Phelan wouldn’t allow floor discussion or a vote on an amendment to the House Rules from State Representative Bryan Slaton, Republican of Royse City, to disallow Democrats from serving as committee chairs of major House committees. State Representative Charlie Geren, Republican of Fort Worth, made the point of order, which Phelan sustained.
Phelan ruled that restricting committee chairs to one political party is using state resources for “political purposes” and is illegal under Section 51, Article III, of the Texas Constitution.
Phelan and Geren both misunderstand the constitutional provision, which clearly only applies to the use of state government physical facilities and assets for political, rather than public, purposes.
In response, Rinaldi said, “The Republican Speaker is taking the procedural position that restricting chairs to the majority party as every other state and congress does is using state resources for “political purposes” and is illegal. This baseless and absurd ruling was made solely to protect Democrat power.” Rinaldi may have a point there, as all 64 Democrats voted to keep Phelan in office as Speaker of the House on Tuesday, January 10.
Rinaldi continued with respect to Phelan’s ruling, “Shocking because it’s a bad move politically, strategically, legally and kills the aura of the House being governed by rules instead of the whims of a uniparty social club.”
Phelan seemed quietly to ignore the conservative backlash against his ruling or his continuing actions to appoint Democrats to committee chairmanships.