People in Representative Simpson's district got this letter. I thought you would like to see it.
What a year this has been already, and we're just in the first weeks of January! As many of you are no doubt aware, I ran for Speaker of the House, the presiding officer of the House of Representatives. And you, as my constituents and supporters, deserve to know why and what happened during the campaign.
The office of Speaker determines much of how the House operates during session. The Speaker controls the assignment of committee chairmen, who in turn control the flow of legislation through their committees, as well as the vast majority of committee assignments for each member individually. The Speaker also administers the rules of the House, or the "laws" by which we pass laws.
During the previous Legislature, I watched as the current leadership undermined the democratic process through an unequal administration of the rules, intimidated members through threats of retribution should they dare to challenge the leadership, and failed with regard to respecting each Member as a duly-elected equal, responsible for representing their constituents.
Click here to watch my speech explaining my reasons for running:
In the end, without having a certainty of victory and at the request of my colleagues because of the threat of retribution to my supporters, I withdrew from the race for Speaker with a speech about my vision for the process by which the House is governed. You can watch my speech by clicking the image above or click here to read the speech on my blog.
Establishment politicians do not like being challenged; however, I believe that the people of Texas are best served when I fight for the interests and the freedoms of my constituents rather than "go along to get along."And the same may be said for each and every Member of the House. You did not elect me to simply follow what leadership dictates. You elected me to represent you.
Though we lost the political debate, the election for Speaker itself, many gains have already been made in the moral debate!
During all my many dozens of conversations with Representatives across the state, the reasons I ran were affirmed over and over again. Whether or not Members were willing to vote for a change in leadership, the vast majority admitted that we have problems in the way we run the state. As with any reform, the first step in causing change is admitting that we have a problem. That has been accomplished.
But, here are a few more specific reasons that I see reason to hope:
First of all, I am very encouraged with the freshmen class of legislators, who have hit the ground running. For example, one freshman gathered over 50 co-authors by the second day for one of his bills. Unlike the traditional role of "sit down and be quiet your first term," this class is prepared and excited to engage in the process early and to stand by what they know to be right. This is a very positive step forward!
Secondly, as soon as debate opened for a housekeeping measure, I passed two amendments to reform House operations. One was an amendment to increase transparency in our budgeting process. It requires committees to publish and vote on operating budgets publicly (previously this was done secretly and was not even readily available to other Members). Also included in the housekeeping resolution was a measure I worked on during the interim. It clarified that the Chair of House Administration could not unilaterally fire another Representative's staff without a reason. That sounds like common sense, but, as you know, not everything in government operates by the same logic that the rest of the world uses.
Thirdly, the housekeeping resolution also included another positive change. It reallocated funds from the Speaker's budget to the individual Members' office budgets. To be clear, this is not an increase in the overall office budget for the Texas House of Representatives. Funds that had been used at the discretion of the Speaker and Chairman of House Administration are now moved into the hands of the individual Members so that we can provide better services to our constituents.
Finally, for the first time in a long while the legislative clock actually reflects the true time (so far)! Some of you may recall that I spoke out about this on the House floor at the end of last session and in the district during the campaign. Others of you may just be scratching your head, so allow me to explain: There are rules regarding when we convene, when we can pass laws and take votes, etc. Previously the clock would start and stop at the will of the Speaker, allowing the Legislature to follow the law in name while not actually following it in reality. While this isn't one of the most important changes we could make, it signals general momentum toward actually respecting the law instead of only paying lip service to it.
With fellow legislators and pastors at the Election Day Sermon after our swearing-in.
So, I encourage you to also stay the course. Continue to hold us, your elected officials, accountable through calm words and continuous contact. Please pray that the Lord would give us wisdom to do the right thing and courage to do it in the right way.