I received this in my inbox this morning. I wasn't really sure what to make of it. But, it is from my District representative, who did not answer ANY of my attempts to contact him about TX OC. I plainly see it makes no regard to issues at hand, but it makes me wonder about his willingness to consider items brought to him.
From: Senator Juan Hinojosa (District20.Hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us)
Sent: Fri 1/16/09 3:58 PM
To: A Thought from State Senator Juan Chuy Hinojosa (District20.Hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us)
Benjamin Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." More than 200 years later, I would add "change" to that. Especially in politics, where fortunes are won and lost all the time. Change simply cannot be avoided.
Sometimes we see change on the horizon and sometimes change occurs without any warning. This Wednesday, on the floor of the Texas Senate, change surprised Senate Democrats when Republicans changed a decades-old rule knows and the two-thirds rule. Designed in part to encourage coalition building and bipartisanship, the two-thirds rule also protected the minority party from the tyranny of the majority. Senate Republicans began eroding that protection this week, on the second day of the 81st Legislative Session.
A brief description of the two-thirds rule and why it's important:
The two-thirds rule requires the author of bill voted out of committee to seek 21 signatures - or two-thirds of the Senate - before bringing that bill to the floor. The Senate consists of 31 members. Senators cannot build coalitions of a simple majority of 16 to move a bill. Senators need to work 5 more members, or 21, to get a bill onto the Senate floor, which means more dialogue, more inclusion, and greater consensus.
The flip-side of the coin is that 11 members can block legislation; the majority cannot steamroll the minority with sheer numbers. And there is the wisdom of the two-thirds rule. The rule teaches us compromise. In the Texas Senate, policy battles are won on the merits of the issue, not the blind indifference of more-versus-less.
The sanctity of the two-thirds rule persevered because it maintained civility, erased political imbalance, and in a very subtle way, made Senators think "Texas first" on issues of statewide impact. The two-thirds rule brought us together, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat, helping us put the state's collective interests ahead of partisan opportunism.
But all things change. Senate Republicans unleashed a precedent that will not be easily contained. Once you justify a rule change for one issue, many other justifications for other issues tend to follow. If the minority cannot stand against the majority on the basis of reason, debate, and the merits of an idea, what defense does it have?
At one time, Democrats held complete control over the Texas House and Senate. In 2003, Texas House members elected their first Republican Speaker in history. Now the House has its second Republican Speaker. Tom DeLay and Karl Rove believe they had built a permanent Republican Majority. They were wrong. It changed.
Political fortunes change. The first will be the last. The last will be first. Undoing a long-standing tradition in the Texas Senate takes Republicans only to the next political opportunity.
Change. It is the nature of governing, and I believe Republicans entirely miss the point.