Skulduggery in the Texas House — HB 710
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According to the unofficial but recorded vote online, in addition to 100% of the present Democrats, Republicans Rob Eissler, Brian McCall, and Tommy Merritt voted with the Democrats. Calls need to be directed at their offices tomorrow, asking them to VOTE NO on HB 710.
Rob Eissler - firstname.lastname@example.org phone 512-463-0797
Brian McCall - email@example.com phone 512-463-0694
Tommy Merritt - phone 512-463-0750
SKULDUGGERY IN THE TEXAS HOUSE -- HB 710 -- 5.5.09
[As described to me by someone who was there in person, this is the high drama that took place on the floor of the Texas House today. Please write your legislators and tell them that you are ashamed that such obvious tricks are being used to take the authority away from the elected State Board of Education members. We want to retain our Constitutional right to elect these Board members who make decisions over the 4.6 million public school children in our state. -- Donna Garner]
HB 710 by Rep. Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) subjects the State Board of Education to the Sunset Advisory Commission review process at the same time as the Texas Education Agency. Unlike the Agency, the Board would not be abolished; but its powers could be modified as part of that process. Under the bill, the Sunset Advisory Commission would review the Board and its powers.
If HB 710 were to pass, the SBOE would be the only elected body in Texas (except for the Texas Railroad Commission) that would be subject to Sunset Review.
Late this afternoon, the Second Reading vote in the House took place: 69 yeas; 72 nays. At that point it looked as if HB 710 was dead. Then a verification of the vote was taken. "Amazingly enough," five more votes just miraculously showed up for the yeas which made HB 710 pass. Tomorrow there will be the Third Reading of this bill in the House.
The House members who said they had "machine malfunctions" were Reps. Pena, Eiland, and Pickett. The two Reps. who flipped their votes from nays to yeas were Edwards and Guillen. All of these members are Democrats.
Unfortunately, Reps. Eissler and McCall both voted for the bill. These men are Republicans.
Reps. Riddle, Chisum, and Christian (Republicans) gave good speeches against the passage of HB 710.
Again, today, Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) courageously stated publicly that today's vote on HB 710 was a ruse similar to the one orchestrated last week to get HJR 77 passed.
HJR 77 (Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin) is the bill that would strip the SBOE of the right to manage the Permanent School Fund that pays for children's textbooks. A mysterious "machine malfunction" occurred on that vote also:
As stated in the the Austin American-Statesman on 4.27.09 ( http://www.statesman.com:80/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/politics/entries/2009/04/27/squeaker_of_a_vote_on_school_f.html ):
In a display of parliamentary high drama, the initial tally fell one vote short of the critical 100-vote threshold needed to allow the measure to skip another House vote and go straight to the Senate.
But the “ayes” grew to 104 after some members said the wrong position had been registered due to “machine malfunctions.”
Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, stepped up to call out the “machine malfunction” a ruse.
“It appears that the verification vote was called for the express purpose of finding another vote,” Smithee said.
It is pretty obvious that the SBOE is being targeted through a concerted effort. Hopefully the House members will be embarrassed by today's skulduggery, and HB 710 will not pass tomorrow on Third Reading.
However, if for some reason HB 710 does pass over to the Senate tomorrow, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst may be so appalled at the unscrupulous tactics used in the House that he will allow HB 710 to stall out.
Regarding HJR 77, if Dewhurst were to allow this bill to proceed to the Senate and even one amendment were added, then HJR 77 would have to go back to the House; and they would have to generate 100 votes again.
This is the time to contact all House and Senate members. Voice your outrage that such unscrupulous tactics are being used to strip the authority away from our elected State Board of Education.
Please ask your Legislators to vote against all of the bevy of bills filed in this session that have one purpose in mind: to destroy the very people on the SBOE who have passed new-and-improved English / Language Arts / Reading standards (to begin implementation next fall in K-12) and the much-improved Science standards (to be implemented in the coming years).
If Legislators really want to see our Texas students improve their academic skills, our elected SBOE members must be allowed to continue their plan to implement authentic education reform in our public schools.
Written by Donna Garner
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