4/26/2011 5:36 PM
Here’s what had me scratching my head all week – the same people who defended the Democrats in 2009 when they shut down the entire calendar to stop voter ID are now attacking Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) over his tactics to stall the so-called “Puppy Mill” bill.
When Republicans blasted the Democrats because they shut down the entire House to stop an essential ballot security bill, the Democrats responded that everything they did was expressly allowed by the rules of the Texas House of Representatives.
Well, the same can be said of Simpson.
What happened here?
Simpson had a bill he didn’t like – a bill that requires certain dog and cat breeders to get a state license (HB 1451 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson [D-Houston]). He found an error in the bill analysis and called a VALID point of order under the rules.
Then, the leadership immediately brought the bill back up to the floor under the Local and Consent Calendar knowing that Simpson disagreed with the bill. And Simpson used the provision in the House rules that allows members to talk a bill off the local calendar.
These actions happen ALL THE TIME in the House. Does anyone really want to count how many bills are popped on points of order each session? Or how many times legislators use the rules to remove a bill from the Local and Consent Calendar?
In fact, most of the time bills are removed from the Local and Consent Calendar, it’s due to a petty, personal grudge. Simpson removed HB 1451 from the Local Calendar on principle, because – in his eyes – the bill expands government unjustifiably. (And given that 44 legislators voted no, he’s not the only one who feels that way.)
Sure, there’s an argument one can make for Thompson’s bill, namely that some dog and cat breeders are not properly caring for their animals, and licensing would require breeders to exercise proper care. But this debate isn’t really about the merits of the “Puppy Mill” bill. It’s about the right of members to debate controversial bills rather than passing them summarily.
Think about it. What’s worse: using the rules to kill hundreds of bills (including sunset and consumer protection bills) because one’s party is afraid of fair and honest elections and doesn’t want tougher measures against voter fraud, or knocking one bill only off the local calendar because one disagrees with it?
What did Simpson do wrong?
Basically, the answer to my question – in the eyes of some of the walking, talking cases for term limits in the Pink Granite Building – is that he didn’t kiss the ring of a senior member before knocking her bill off the calendar, that he should have worked out a compromise in advance or “picked his battles.”
The traditions of the House may be helpful to the members, but sometimes I wonder if the public is well-served by some of them. Simpson followed the rules of the house to the letter. He did exactly what he said he would do in his campaign and stood for limited government. There are far worse things one could be accused of than standing up for one’s core values and beliefs.
1 comment(s) so far...
By Barnes on
4/27/2011 7:30 AM
Hurray for a man of principles and Simpson is that man of principle who cannot be bullied. It is clear that Senfronia Thompson has sold out her community a long time ago. She has done nothing for women and even less for her community in recent years other than keeping herself employed by forcing others to support her bills or they don't even get their heard. She has thrown in with the violent animal rights groups who want to end all pet ownership in this country. She has allowed herself to be bought out by one of the lowest organizations on this planet who has used sad eyed puppies to raise money to end all use of animals for medical research, pet ownership, and for food. This woman has sunk to the lowest of the low and used her power to push others into voting yes on this bill. The animal rights groups keep pushing and the public needs to know that THLN has declared war on you and your pets. They want to limit how many you can own to less than 4 total and they want the entire state of Texas to be under their thumb by passing a law that all counties and communities must have the same limit number. HB1451 and HB 2116 are the same limit laws if you run a rescue or are a responsible hobby breeder they want to limit how many dogs you can rescue and how many dogs you can own otherwise you will be charge $1500 to $2000 dollars a year to operate. In other words you have to pay the state for being responsible breeder or pet owner or rescue group. Even if you move out of the city they want to say that you cannot own more than four animals total. They keep saying this is just about puppy mills, but Texas already has a very strong animal welfare law and we do not have enough commercial breeders to pay for the pet police.