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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And They're Off

The 82nd Texas Legislature will convene at Noon today. Two interesting votes will take place.

The House of Representatives will elect its presiding officer as the first order of business, and Speaker Joe Straus will be re-elected by a wide margin. Yesterday, 70 out of 101 members of the House Republican Caucus expressed their preference for Straus. As the preferred candidate of the Republican Caucus and with pledges from all but two Democrats, Straus will receive over 120 votes to be reelected as Speaker.

The Senate will vote on its procedural rules for the 82nd Session as the first order of business (Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is constitutionally the presiding officer). The key rules provision is a requirement that legislation receive support from 2/3rds of the Senators present before it can be debated on the Senate floor. With 19 Republicans out of 31, this rule requires the votes of at least two Democrats before a bill can be debated on the floor. Conservative groups have called for the 2/3rds rule to be eliminated so that Republicans will not need Democratic support to bring legislation to the floor. However, the collegial, bipartisan tradition of the Senate will prevail today, and the Senate will again adopt the 2/3rds rule.