Friday, August 15, 2014

Joe Straus: The Harry Reid of Texas!!!

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

On the one hand, we're upset we didn't personally think of this analogy; on the other hand, ouch:
While the Texas House is controlled by Straus, widely seen as moderate if not liberal, the Texas Senate is controlled by a conservative majority and is all but guaranteed to be presided over in 2015 by a Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of the most conservative lawmakers in the state, which is saying something in Texas. Just as numerous bills and pro-growth reforms have been passed by Speaker John Boehner’s House, only to languish in Harry Reid’s Senate, next year could provide an analogous situation in Austin, in which the state senate passes a host of conservative reforms – such as tax relief and school choice – only to see them die in Speaker Straus’s House. Straus’s acolytes are already making clear that the Texas House will be a graveyard for conservative and free market reforms passed by the senate.


Rep. Villalba detailed specifically how Speaker Straus and company plan to obstruct senate-passed reforms, explaining that the House Calendars Committee is where conservative bills will be strangled in the cradle.

“Calendars decides what bills get to the floor for a vote,” said Villalba. “I can tell you right now most bills die in Calendars… because Calendars is, again, loyal to the speaker.”

Got that, Texas senators? Don’t even think about trying to make the state more economically competitive with Speaker Straus in charge of the House. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, one Texas representative, considered to be one of the GOP’s top rising stars, not just in Texas but the nation, is challenging Straus to be speaker in 2015.


While any challenge to Straus would be an uphill battle, many Austin political insiders concede that if any lawmaker could knock him off, it’s Turner. Helping Turner is the fact that Straus has seen the ranks of his supporters in the House dwindle over the past year. Half a dozen Straus supporters decided to retire and have been replaced with conservatives. Five Straus allies lost in the June primaries to more conservative challengers.

The outcome of Turner’s challenge to Straus will have major consequences for the state. While Texas has relatively low taxes and a business tax climate superior to most states, it is not without challenges. The state’s gross receipts tax, known as the Margin Tax, is a major hindrance to the state realizing its full economic potential. This is a tax that economists of all political stripes agree is one of the most economically damaging ways to raise revenue. It is a highly complex tax assessed on different industries in different ways. The compliance costs of this tax for some companies are greater than their liability and even businesses that fail to turn a profit still have to pay it. Rep. Turner introduced legislation in 2013 to do away with this onerous levy, but the bill died with Straus at the helm.


Texas voters have been putting conservatives in statewide office for years and continue to do so. In a few short months we’ll find out if Texas will have a new House Speaker who is in sync with the state’s electorate, or if the Texas version of Harry Reid will continue to obstruct in Austin.
Read the whole thing here.

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