A closer glance at the Texas Senate’s new 5/9 rule

Jannie Delucca

a man wearing a suit and tie: Landry

© Landry

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created news – again – this past month by modifying the guidelines of the Texas Senate.  Texas’ upper chamber only wants 18 of its 31 associates to carry a bill to the flooring.  It is dubbed the 5/9 Rule.

That is a mouthful to say but in this article is how it is effective.  A “blocker bill” – anything trivial – will be put at the starting of the Senate’s daily calendar, where by it sits for the rest of the session.  No other monthly bill can be passed except if at minimum 5-ninths of the Senators agree to “suspend the frequent buy of company” and skip about the blocker.  As soon as 5-ninths is obtained, Senators may well convey whatsoever bill they want to the floor for thing to consider.

Why this odd portion and what does it have to do with nearly anything?  At the start of this session, Republicans will be down a person seat from previous session, leaving the Senate chamber at 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats.  Less than the previous 3/5 Rule, it necessary 19 senators to suspend standard order and convey a invoice to the floor.  If this present Senate chamber operated less than the previous rule, the Lt. Governor’s agenda may not go.


The purpose of the rule is consensus developing.  The chamber will not stand for a bill that does not have the assistance of more than its vast majority.  This is meant to slow down the lawmaking approach and reach centered debate and compromise.  But to the Lt. Governor, it stymies his agenda and as a result need to be changed.

Allow us remember that Dan Patrick attempted this in the earlier.  He tried one thing similar in 2007 when he was a freshman state senator.  Then, he pushed for a evaluate to go strictly by a uncomplicated the greater part vote.  That was soundly defeated 30-1.  But by the time his to start with session as Lt. Governor took area in 2015, new senators arrived and experienced various feelings towards the 2/3 Rule.  Patrick capitalized on this instant and maneuvered the alter of the 68-12 months regular hurdle to the 3/5 Rule.  In that session, the make-up of the Texas Senate was 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats with 2/3 of the chamber being 21.

The commitment powering these improvements was apparent, politics.  Texas media lately reported Patrick’s confession.  “So it is heading to be 16 a straightforward the greater part plus two. And they explained, ‘well that is political.’ I claimed, ‘Yes, we’re the greater part!’”  Patrick went on to assert that it had to be completed in get to further more the agenda and chalked it up to elections.

To be truthful, he has a point.  Elections subject and Republicans have held management of the legislature and Governor’s Mansion because 2003.  With that, arrives the expectation of governing and make no error, the Republicans have passed their agenda.  Voter ID, gun legal rights, pro-everyday living, states’ rights, and tax rules to title a couple arrived from Republican leadership.  In the Lt. Governor’s intellect, why will have to his agenda be thwarted by the minority Get together?  It is a acceptable concern and a person he consistently poses.

But the situation is how comparable this tactic is to D.C. fashion of politics.  In 2013, former U.S. Senate The vast majority Chief Harry Reid invoked the nuclear possibility when the Republican minority filibustered numerous reduced court judicial nominees from President Obama.  This shift primarily gave Senate Democrats the capability to carry an up or down confirmation vote to the flooring.  This, in change, was satisfied in 2017 when then Senate The greater part Leader Mitch McConnell expanded the nuclear selection by applying it to Supreme Court nominees when the Democratic minority threatened to filibuster Neal Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Even though permitting the the greater part rule could be in the Lt. Governor’s desire, the Texas legislature is not Congress.  That by yourself is 1 of the legislature’s endearing qualities.  Congress is nasty and polarizing.  The biennial legislature, having said that, has extended been residence to bipartisanship.  It has been much less about burning bridges and a lot more about setting up bridges. 

For the earlier number of sessions, nevertheless, the legislature has develop into far more partisan than it used to.  The driving power guiding this Washington design and style of governing has been the staunch “no compromise” personality and unapologetic agenda of the Lt. Governor.  Pair that with the current election of former Florida Congressman Allen West to Chair the Texas GOP and his admonishment of Dade Phelan’s election to Residence Speaker, D.C. model of governing in Texas may perhaps be on the increase.  

Till lawmakers return to common steps of legislating and restore truthful policies for flooring procedure, the tit-for-tat techniques of Congress may get there in a Texas legislative session quicker than thought.

Drew Landry is an assistant professor of governing administration at South Plains Higher education.

This report originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Landry: A nearer glimpse at the Texas Senate’s new 5/9 rule

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