Bring ’em back! Same-sex marriage opponents call for special session to fight likely Supreme Court ruling

Good morning Austin:

OK. Admit it. You miss them.

Oh sure, when sine die arrived Monday you were happy to see it end, glad to see them go.

Until it ended. And they left.

And then you woke up yesterday feeling lonely and all alone. Pointless.

Sine die.It literally means, Without day.

As in the fading of the light. Death.

And did Gov. Greg Abbott have to rub it in Monday, telling reporters that with no special session in sight, “The legislators are going home today and I do not anticipate them coming back until 2017.”

2017? That’s not even next year. That’s the year after. Really?

No Stickland for some 600 days?

Rep. Jonathan Stickland during debate of an open carry bill at the Capitol on Friday April 17, 2015. JAY JANNER
Rep. Jonathan Stickland during debate of an open carry bill.

No TMF?

tmf
Photo by me on Sunday.

No points of order? No chubbing? No surreptitious filming?

No. Not right. Not acceptable.

So, you can imagine how my heart soared last night when, nearly two hours into a conference call being conducted by JoAnn Fleming, head of the tea party group, Grass Roots America – We the People, Cathie Adams, a former Texas Republican Party Chairman who heads the Texas Eagle Forum, said that sine die cannot stand, that it is incumbent upon Abbott to call the Legislature back to Austin for a special session.

Hallelujah! We are saved.

As the regular session drew to a close, Fleming – who also heads Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s grass-roots task force – told Mike Ward and Peggy Fikac that,“I’d give the Senate a C, and the House a failing grade. Overall, the Legislature would get a D in my classroom.”

Last night, Fleming, at the outset of the call, explained its purpose:

We want to make sure that you all have very good information, as we want to make sure that the Texas fairy tale –  another chapter is written after every legislative session – where  a lot of politicians want to make you believe that the session was as conservative as it possibly could have been, they did everything they could to pass conservative legislation and they just couldn’t get it done either because of the other guy, the other chamber, the clock ran out, the dog ate my homework, or something. There’s always some kind of excuse..

And I believe that most everyone on the call tonight agrees that we have run out of time for political excuses.

Caption: JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director of Grassroots America, holds a copy of the DPS Texas Gang Threat Assessment as she speaks about the border crisis at a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday July 16, 2014. Several concerned citizens from around Texas spoke out against the way the federal government is handling the crisis. JAY JANNER
Caption: JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director of Grassroots America, holds a copy of the DPS Texas Gang Threat Assessment as she speaks about the border crisis at a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday July 16, 2014. Several concerned citizens from around Texas spoke out against the way the federal government is handling the crisis. JAY JANNER

As to why Adams – and Fleming –  want a special session, it all has to do with the failure of the Legislature to enact legislation to fight against the likelihood of a forthcoming Supreme Court decision affirming  same-sex marriage, with the sole exception of a “Pastor Protection Act,” which was so tame it ended up gaining virtually unanimous support in the House, including that of Rep. Celia Israel, who is lesbian and a staunch defender of LGBT rights.

Here is how Adams explained the need for a special, which is really best read in its entirety:

It really is an issue, not just to pastors, as we heard about the Kleins in Oregon and their bakery, Sweet Cakes simply denying the baking of a cake for a same sex couple and they were fined $135,000 and put out of business. We also know that there’s a couple in Texas who just started a business hosting weddings in Texas in a new facility and having booked already through the end of this year with a new brand new business 40 weddings. They are not going to do same-sex weddings with their facilities. Well, if they do not and the Supreme Court decides as we think they will, is this going to put this business out as well?

It’s the florists, it’s the bakeries, it’s the pastors who were affected, but all of us were affected. One word that was repeated by Justice (Anthony) Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court was millennia. Millennia. That is thousands of years of history and never, even when homosexual unions are part of a decaying culture in the Roman Empire, it was part of a decaying culture, yet marriages were never sanctioned. Why?  Because millennia of history have shown that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and they didn’t even have that much decadence in the Roman Empire to condone and establish a marriage for same-sex couple. So we are taking decadence to a new low level.

And so there was a bill, House Bill 4105, carried by Cecil Bell, and, of course, many who were pushing this bill thought, well he supported Speaker Straus  so therefore that bill, so it’s sure to get the favor of the speaker, and another one of the supporters of this bill said, “Yes and I trust Todd Hunter,” the chairman of the Calendars Committee, and “I trust Byron Cook,” the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, hearing this bill.” 

Well, today that man was singing a very different tune. His head was handed to him on a silver platter by Todd Hunter and Byron Cook. I am a proud donor and endorser of the political opponent to Byron Cook as well as to (an opponent to) Jim Keffer,one the men you have heard about tonight,  as well as the man challenging Charlie Geren. Those are three key lieutenants to this speaker that have earned opposition but have not earned reelection and these issue are very important to us.

Millennia of history, even cited by the swing vote on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Texas is willing to, not lead the nation, but to absolutely bow and scrape before one percent of the U.S. ‘population that is homosexual.

Cathie Adams, left, of Dallas, and Kat Fox of Mabank, supporters of Rep. Scott Turner for Speaker of the House, sing and pray before the start of the first day of the 84th legislative session at the Capitol on Tuesday January 13, 2015. JAY JANNER r
Cathie Adams, left, of Dallas, and Kat Fox of Mabank, supporters of Rep. Scott Turner for Speaker of the House, sing and pray before the start of the first day of the 84th legislative session at the Capitol on Tuesday January 13, 2015. JAY JANNER

This bill would have simply said we are going to move marriage licenses away from just a local or county distribution level to an elected statewide official, as in the comptroller, because when someone is elected to a statewide position then he is accountable to those voters. And so we were going to move marriage licenses to be overseen by the comptroller and, secondly, to deny funding also of course under the purview of the comptroller, to those local and county governments that would issue same-sex marriage licenses. Again, House Bill 4105 by Cecil Bell got onto the House calendar, died there, got on very late, knowing full well that there would be not only too many other bills but also too much chubbing, which is filibustering by the Democrats, thereby killing the bill. The Senate bill never received a hearing. It was in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Again we have heard the promises, we have heard the conviction personally of our lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, but in this case his appointment as State Affairs chairman of Joan Huffman was very much the demise of some of our very good pieces of legislation.

The good news is the pastors are protected. The bad news is no other business in the state of Texas would be protected and whether this would even hold after the U.S. Supreme Court decides for same state marriage as we expect them to do toward the end of the month. I think all of this is up for grabs and Texas right now has nothing to protect us from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that is anarchy.

xxxxxxx

When we threw God out of our schools and said we will not have prayer in our schools, what did we the people do, what did the church do? We stood by and we watched. That was in the 1960s and then we saw life become irrelevant, again by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 70s. Today we are looking at marriage to be sacrificed on the altar of decadence by the U.S. Supreme Court later this month. Are we the people going to stand up? Are we going to demand that Texas lead, that our governor holds to his stated conviction, that our lieutenant governor holds to his stated conviction that marriage is indeed between a man and a woman? Are we going to stand up for the Constitution of this state? Are we going to stand up for the statutes, the laws of this state and say that we must now have a special session in order to make a statement and to protect Texas from the overreach of the Supreme Court? Or are we going to decided instead to let the Supreme Court overrule the Tenth Amendment, state’s rights, certainly the moral laws of millennia of history and the founders of this nation on Judeo-Christian thinking and traditions? Are we going to stand by again, as we did with prayer, as we did with life, now? Are we going to do the same thing with marriage? That is what is now facing us and we have a decision to make.

For me …  I am supporting the call for our governor to call a special session now, or forever hold our peace. We must stand up for marriage. We must push back on this tyranny from the bench

I think I’ve probably said enough JoAnn.

Then from Fleming:

Well Cathie that was absolutely well said, very well said.

I want to remind people how this thing became convoluted whenever Mr. Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, for the first time – I want people on this call to understand this – for the first time a recognized business organization decided at the beginning of the session that they would hold a press conference in the Capitol and business would hold a press conference with the LGBTXYZ group, as I call them, and say, “Texas is not the place to pass any religious liberty bills or any bills like Indiana tried to do and Arkansas, Texas is not the place because it would be bad for business.”

I have to tell you folks, it’s time for a different business organization, because I do not believe in the state of Texas that all business owners and all business leaders agree with Mr. Bill Hammond.

I can tell you Cathie, that when that happened it was like the shot across the bow. People decided, leaders who should have been speaking up, became silent, and Cathie, I agree with you and I want to join you in saying that Grassroots America – We The People is going to join with you and other groups to call on the governor to step up and lead on this issue.

Because I will tell you, Cathie I was on the phone call with some people today that I know you’ve talked to in the past, because across the country, people who are arguing this case before the Supreme Court, arguing the side of maintaining traditional marriage, they were counting on Texas to lead, they were counting on it because if Texas stood up then it would send a message to the Supreme Court. We sent no message. We sent a whimper, because we had people in the House who signed a letter saying, well you know, we couldn’t pass a bill but we support marriage. Same thing over in the Senate – not a letter but a resolution. That my friends is called a political fig leaf and it covers nothing. So Cathie I’m with you all the way.

Is there anything else you’d like to address?

 

 - Bill Hammond, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, second from right, jokes saying he likes everyone as Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D- Houston, and Celia Israel, D-Austin, left to right, look on following a press conference with lawmakers and civil liberties leaders denouncing bills that they say will promote discrimination against gay Texans during a press conference held at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ)
– Bill Hammond, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, second from right, jokes saying he likes everyone as Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D- Houston, and Celia Israel, D-Austin, left to right, look on following a press conference with lawmakers and civil liberties leaders denouncing bills that they say will promote discrimination against gay Texans during a press conference held at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ)

 

Adams:

Just a sound bite for people to remember.

The pre-K debacle, as I have called it throughout, was an emergency item by our Gov. Abbott, House Bill 4, and what it is a teachers’ jobs program, so we’re talking about increasing jobs for teachers. We are increasing spending from the state coffers to schools over $4 billion in the next biennium. That’s what part of the money will go to – teacher jobs.

(note: I am not sure what she is referring to here. Abbott’s pre-K initiative has a $130 million price tag. Universal, full-day pre-K, which Wendy Davis called for but Abbott has not, would cost an estimated $4 billion over two years.)

Back to Adams, and what for me was my first introduction to the unified field theory of pre-K as not so much an expression of Godless socialism as greedy capitalism.

And then it is, this pre-K bill, is a cheap labor bill because if you can have a young mom, unmarried, have a baby, she’s already got food stamps, she’s already got housing supplements, she’s already got all these programs, now we are going to provide her with babysitting at taxpayer expense so that those businesses that Bill Hammond represents in the Texas Association of Business can also have more cheap laborers, and so cheaper jobs and cheap labor, that’s what this is all about. Taxpayer-funded babysitting. This is not what Texans believe in. This is going to be competing with private businesses, including our churches which provide excellent baby care and child care, and it’s been a private-run, spiritual-focused and wholesome environment for children that parents choose if they want it. So now we’ve got a taxpayer-funded babysitting and I couldn’t be more unhappy.

I spoke to Fleming after the conference call and she said she agreed with the demand for a special session and thought at this point it should be limited to dealing with same-sex marriage.

She said the other issue that might have tempted her was border security. She said that without a change in our “catch-and-release policy,” the $800 million enhanced border security bill just enacted was “a border spending bill, it’s not going to secure the border.”

But, even without a special session, she said of the border program, “I believe that will work itself out.”

In the meantime, in his own effort to suck  the drama out of the next couple years, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday that he will never run for governor.

From Tim Eaton and Chuck Lindell:

“This was a smooth session, and whatever anyone says about the success of the session, the credit all goes to you,” he told the senators.

Meeting with reporters afterward, Patrick said he wanted to address persistent rumors about whether he would challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the next primary.

“Let me bury that today,” Patrick said. “I will never be running against Greg Abbott for governor.”

Not only that, Patrick added, he will not run for governor, period. “I will be lieutenant governor and this will be my last position. This will be my last job in Texas,” he said. “I love this job. This is where the action is. It’s a lot of fun.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sine Die.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sine Die.

Oh my God.

How brilliantly, transparently, diabolically Machiavellian.

Sure, tell Greg Abbott that you’ve never contemplated and would never contemplate challenging him for governor. Lull him into complacency. Let him think that he doesn’t have to worry about hewing as hard right as possible to fend off a potential challenge, that he doesn’t have to heed calls by JoAnn Fleming or Cathie Adams for a special session, that he can indulge his pre-K bliss to his heart’s content.

And then, wham, one day Dan Patrick announces that, much as it pains him to say so,  Greg Abbott has unaccountably drifted from conservative principles and that it is with a heavy heart that he must challenge Abbott for governor, that as little as he wants to do it, that is the last mission that God has placed on this servant-leader’s heart.

On the other hand, Patrick might have just been telling the simple, straightforward truth.

How boring.

 

 

 

 

Texas Ag Commish invites employees to prayer following weekend disasters

Following the Memorial Day weekend floods, Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller sent out an email on Tuesday, May 26, inviting his state employees to pray at state headquarters. A conference call dial-in number was set up for employees in other parts of the state to participate.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller at an event in March, 2015.     (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller at an event in March, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

A portion of the email:

To all TDA Staff –

In light of the recent weather tragedies in and around the state of Texas and the tremendous loss of lives and property.  I have invited Chaplain Michael Tummillo to stop by TDA Austin Headquarters office today at 1:30pm to hold a prayer devotional to pray for guidance and relief to so many hurting Texans.  Chaplain Tummillo is a non-denominational clergyman.

If you feel the need to pray or reflect for yourself, your family, friends and for the flood and tornado victims across Texas – please feel free to attend.

The end of the email, following background information on Michael Tummillo, who has led prayers following other disasters in Texas and Oklahoma, explained that the event “is strictly a voluntary event and open to all TDA Employees.”

For the tea party, it’s Sine Die on a wing and a prayer

Good morning Austin:

Below is a Facebook post Sunday from Julie McCarty, head of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party. That’s McCarty and me and photographer Ralph Barrera in the House Gallery  Thursday morning.

julie and me

Earlier in the week a group of us went to the Capitol, and as usual we began our visit by praying in the House gallery. A reporter met me there to interview me, and his photographer shot a bunch of pictures of our group in prayer (which he apologized for but I thought was pretty cool because I WANT folks statewide to see where our strength and direction come from!). I don’t know if or when his article will come out, but one thing he said to me really made me think, and then today’s sermon at First Baptist Grapevine solidified it for me. The reporter said to me, “So it sounds like you are disappointed in the session, yet you don’t seem discouraged.” It caught me off-guard because discouragement never crossed my mind! I told him God calls us to the work – I’m not quitting until He quits! In the sermon today, Pastor Doug talked about dream killers — tools of the devil — who try to knock us off course. We may not understand the obstacles in our path to what God has called us to do, but we don’t have to. God shows us the “why” usually at the end. And we’re just gettin’ started.

In the two-and-a-half years since I came to Texas, the role of the tea party, especially as manifested in the election of Ted Cruz to the Senate and Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor, has been the most compelling political story.

One of the first stories I wrote on my arrival was about the impending arrival in Austin of a very large new freshman class of legislators. I focused on two incoming new state representatives – Jonathan Stickland and Jason Villalba.

I wrote:

State Rep.-elect Jonathan Stickland is 29. He left high school early and got a GED. He had never held or run for office before. His local elected officialdom was virtually unanimous in its preference for his Republican primary opponent. If he has a charisma it’s in his super-ordinariness. And he doesn’t even have the “r” in his last name that everyone assumes is supposed to be there.

And there, in brief, are the keys to Stickland’s stunning success. Every strike against him, he marvels, turned out to be an advantage in what turned out to be a crushing, 20-point primary victory. Each provided a way for people to remember and identify with him. He just had to own it, live it, be it.

Now, Stickland is one of the reasons why the new Texas House, when it convenes Tuesday for its biennial session, will be swollen with freshman – 43 in all. Together with 24 sophomores, the new and the near-new will make up close to half the 150 members of the House.

Stickland was “discovered” by Julie McCarty, president of the board of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, who was especially impressed with the way he confronted U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, at a town hall meeting after Burgess voted in 2011 to raise the debt limit.

“Jonathan was so well spoken, and it wasn’t just that he had good points to make. They were so well-thought out and easy to understand,” said McCarty. “It was truly the voice of the people.”

“Honestly, I never considered running until I got an email from Julie McCarty at 11:45 at night, sitting in front of my home computer eating a bowl of ice cream,” recalled Stickland. “My wife was leaning over me and started laughing. Then she said, ‘Crap, you might be able to do that.’”

(This is the photo I took of Jonathan Stickland on our first encounter.)

Stickland 1.0
Stickland 1.0

Well, as we all now know, Jonathan Stickland turned out to be a tea party prodigy, and I have always found Julie McCarty to be accessible, responsive and, as per her Facebook post above, perpetually upbeat in a realm in which negativity can easily take hold.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland during debate of an open carry bill at the Capitol on Friday April 17, 2015. JAY JANNER
Rep. Jonathan Stickland 2.0 during debate of an open carry bill at the Capitol on Friday April 17, 2015. JAY JANNER

I have also found her very interesting because she remains at once a political outsider – essentially a political amateur, as opposed to a professional – and a political force to be reckoned with.

If there was any doubt about that, it was settled for me as I was preparing to go meet McCarty in the House Gallery Thursday morning. I was listening to the Texas Tribune live stream of Evan Smith’s conversation assessing the Senate session with state Sens. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; and José Rodríguez, D-El Paso.

A little better than a half hour into the discussion, Smith said to Hancock:

You all had the numbers to do anything you wanted, right, and you changed the rules at the beginning so that you all could really do anything you wanted, yet you didn’t get same-sex marriage legislation passed, in the end in-state tuition for undocumented students is not going to be overturned as the law of the state of Texas, the bill to deny insurance coverage for abortion …. that’s ultimately not going to be the law of the state. Can you go back home to the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party, one of the tea party strongholds of the state, and look Julie McCarty in the eye and say, “This was a good session for grassroots conservatives?”

Yes,” Hancock said. “I don’t go back home and focus on one group. This was a good session for Texans. That’s who I represent.”

Photo by Ralph Barrera
Photo by Ralph Barrera

When I saw McCarty an hour later, I related the exchange and she was naturally delighted that, “can you look Julie McCarty in the eye,” was now a kind of litmus test for grassroots conservative credibility.

“You just made my day,” McCarty said. “That’s awesome. I want him to have to think if he is going to have to do that.”

 

julie1
Photo by Ralph Barrera

 

In Sunday’s Statesman I wrote about how the fondest tea party hopes had been foiled in the session. The argument essentially tracked the tea party/Michael Quinn Sullivan complaint that the House under Speaker Joe Straus had checked tea party influence being exerted by Patrick’s election to lead an increasingly conservative Senate. That was the essence of every weekly MQS conference call.

The story  – Confounding expectations, in the 84th session, the center-right held – began as follows:

On Thursday, in the enveloping twilight of the 84th session of the Texas Legislature, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, a second-term Republican from Southlake who arrived in Austin last session as the tactical genius behind a torrent of Tarrant County tea party victories, looked over all that the session had accomplished and saw that it was good.

“We got a lot of stuff done,” Capriglione said. “From a conservative perspective we did everything from open carry, campus carry to E-Verify and the border. From a more traditional Republican perspective, we funded schools at a higher rate, we took care of transportation, we took care of all the big infrastructure issues, and we cut taxes on top of that.”

After winning re-election, Capriglione stunned a November meeting of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party, telling them he would be voting for Joe Straus for House speaker, and not tea party challenger Rep. Scott Turner of Frisco — who ended up with only 19 votes.

With that act of apostasy, Capriglione cast aside the role of dissident to become part of an overwhelming bipartisan majority in a House that has served as an effective counterweight to newly elected Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s assertive rightward leadership in the Senate and provided the ballast the new governor, Greg Abbott, needed to pursue a less ideological agenda, free of entangling wedge issues.

On Thursday, with a few days left in the session, I asked McCarty what she hoped might still be accomplished.

We’re looking at open carry, campus carry, trying to do what we can to salvage  the bones that they might throw to us. There’s not a lot that’s been accomplished this session that we’re happy about and they’re going to have to do something  so that they can campaign as conservatives. Right? It’s going to be election season and if they’ve got nothing to  campaign on what are they going to do, so they’ve got to throw us something. So we’ll see what we can salvage.

Photo by Ralph Barrera

“I think we knew from the git-go it was going to be a tough session,” McCarty said, saying she got her first sign that this session was not going to be what she hoped it would be at a pre-inaugural gala dinner in Austin with a joint guest list put together by Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick. There were only four tea party couples at the dinner, she said, all Patrick invitees.

It was the first time that it really impacted me that true conservatives are in the minority and so, I came into the session with a completely different perspective, that instead of being frustrated that we have this near supermajority of Republicans in the House and we should get all this done, it doesn’t matter if they’re putting Republican by their name because they are not conservatives. So my expectations were lowered. Now they didn’t even meet my low expectations.”

It’s like we have two different things going on because you can look at the Senate and be so excited but we have this balance of the House that does nothing but disappoint, so it’s been a lot more emotional this time. It’s what was expected but it was a lot more emotional because it was a roller coaster of excited versus being stepped on.

Half of the people, they’re uneducated, so when the Senate passes something they think, “Oh, it’s done, Texas is so conservative, we did this and this and this,” and then I’ll tell them, “Oh no, we don’t have open carry, oh no we don’t have a better budget, we don’t have anything,” and they’re like, they’ll  send me headlines, “Senate passes such and such,” and they don’t understand it, they don’t  know how it works and how they have to keep fighting. so, we’ll keep educating.

She said Thursday’s trip to Austin it was her fifth lobby visit of the session – “not nearly as many as I expected and I regret that in a big way.”

She explained:

First time we came down in a big group it was amazing watching the folks on the floor see us, and I’m talking about the good guys, the guys all tea parties believe are on our side, but they’re not working together this session. There’s no unity amongst them this session, and then they see us, sitting in the gallery and they’re all from different groups around North Texas, and all of a sudden they’re talking and … just that day we watched bad bills get killed, and we’re texting, and we’re like, “Matt, how come you haven’t signed on to this?”

“Gio, how come …,”  Of course Gio ignores us every time. But  we were here and right before our eyes we watched how we were making a difference. And so we’ve come once a week since then.

That’s why I regret not being here more. It’s like when you’re speeding down the road and you see a cop, you slow down. We want to be that cop.

McCarty said she was “not happy” with Gov. Abbott.

The only thing he actually fought for is pre-K, and everybody knows we’re not happy with the pre-K. For the life of me I can’t figure out why that’s the one he decided to use his political clout on, but he did.

He had so much potential and he wasted it

Perry always disappointed me in the same way. Perry was much more conservative than he laid down the law and he could have and probably wanted to do more and his advisers I think held him back. I thought Abbott would actually be stronger than Perry and Abbott is weaker than Perry. So Perry wasn’t all that but Abbott is weaker.”

Of Patrick:

I am  very happy with the work Dan Patrick has done … I know there are other tea party leaders that – you know tea party leaders are watchdogs, so we are very, very critical of everything, and that includes Dan Patrick and, sure we can go to Dan Patrick and say, “Well, why didn’t you push harder for this?” or, “Why didn’t you do this and this and this?” But he has to answer to more than just the tea party and I can very easily cut him slack because out of any elected officials anywhere in the state of Texas, Dan Patrick has given us the loudest voice  and I appreciate that and I’m not going to stab him in the back for it.

Like Stickland, McCarty said the 84th session is mostly useful because, “It’s good ammo, that’s what this session was – good ammo to clean house.”

It was at that point that I made my comment that she seemed “disgusted but not discouraged.”

“Oh, never discouraged. You saw us praying here. We get our motivation from God. We really feel like this is what we’re called to do and we have a responsibility to do it, so how can you be discouraged?

I asked what they prayed for?

Photo by Ralph Barrera
Photo by Ralph Barrera

“Wisdom,” McCarty said. “Letting our words be his words. That’s wisdom.

And Stickland is still the main man, right?

“Absolutely. You’re not going to get better than Jonathan,” she said. Rep. Matt “Rinaldi is really close.”

But Stickland “is so much more flamboyant. Jonathan speaks like one of us because he came from us, he speaks like one of us, and so we relate to him and he’s not afraid to say things, and Rinaldi can fight just as hard and he is brilliant, but he just doesn’t have that flavor that Jonathan offers. And I would be crushed if Jonathan lost his number one ranking.”

“I told Jonathan on the phone the other day, `I don’t care what vote you have to take, you don’t lose that first place (standing).'”

“We have different styles,” Rinaldi said yesterday.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi
Rep. Matt Rinaldi

“It’s like a football game – some people are the guys who get on the stat sheet and pass a lot of bills with their names on it. Some people are the guys how block, the power fullback who busts through the line. Some people are the coaches who are marking the x’s and o’s. Everybody has their own role. It’s how you fill that role.”

While Stickland disparaged the 84th as the “do-nothing session,” Rinaldi was less dismissive.

In the last ten years I think it’s one of the more conservative sessions. I think that has lot to do with the changes we made the last election season. I think we had a more conservative House body. I think we had a much more conservative Senate body and Senate leadership and I think that result is one of more conservative sessions in the last ten years.

We had a budget  that stayed within inflation plus population growth.Iit didn’t grow the real size of government and I think tha’s always the centerpiece. Compared to other session I think we did well.

When looked at objectively on the amount of Republicans we have in each chamber and the major issues that our nation and our state are facing, now I think it’s less successful when viewed from that perspective. We missed a lot of opportunities to address huge issues that face the state such as reforming education, such as doing something to address the Supreme Court’s impending decision, which will redefine marriage as it’s  existed for the last  2,000 years. I don’t think we’ve done enough to address illegal immigration, which is one of the biggest issues that Texans face right now. We put $800 million into border security, which I think was a great start, but we did nothing to address the magnets that bring illegal immigrants to the state of Texas, and I think that was a great failing as well.  And there were just bills in the House that didn’t make the floor because of games that I think were played, like the abortion bill that would have prohibited insurers from insuring abortion, like the marriage bill, bills that should have been voted on, should have had a vote and just didn’t.

All that said, Rinaldi said he had a direct impact on legislation like the border security bill, open carry, and other legislation, including deregulating the barber industry in Texas.

I think after one session I’m optimistic because I think I’ve had more of an effect as a freshman than I thought I would. You have an effect  in so many more ways than you dream that you could coming into this large body, and that gives you hope that you can actually change things going forward.

Does he want to do it again?

I’m absolutely going to do it again. You can’t not once you realize all the good you can do.

Rinaldi said he didn’t suffer any negative repercussions for being one of 19 members to vote against Straus for speaker.

But listening to him, I couldn’t help but wonder whether, if he returns for another session, he would still be aligning himself as a hard-core Sticklandite, or whether he might emerge as the next Capriglione.

 

Freshman State Rep. Dist. 98 Giovanni Capriglione sets up his coffee maker while moving in to his office at the Texas state capitol for the first time on Sat., Jan 5, 2013 Photographer, Landis Images
Freshman State Rep. Dist. 98 Giovanni Capriglione sets up his coffee maker while moving in to his office at the Texas state capitol for the first time on Sat., Jan 5, 2013 Photographer, Landis Images

 

“We’ll do our best to get rid of Gio after this session, ” McCarty said in the House Gallery Thursday. “It’s not going to be pretty …. it’s sad for all of us.”

I asked about an opponent for Capriglione. “You have somebody yet?”

“Not announced,” said McCarty, which I took to mean that she had someone, but that she was not yet ready to announce who it was.

Capriglione told me he was not worried, and, as I wrote in Sunday’s story:

He’s already framing the debate in his head.

“I’ll go to their meetings and ask how many people hate Texas, how many people think we’re on the wrong path?” Capriglione said. “I don’t hate Texas. I love Texas.”

 Rep. Giovanni Capriglione speaks with a colleage at the House Chambers at the Capitol in Austin, Tx., on Friday, May 29, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON
Rep. Giovanni Capriglione speaks with a colleage at the House Chambers at the Capitol in Austin, Tx., on Friday, May 29, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON