Party Switch Gives Texas House Republicans Supermajority

By: - December 15, 2010 12:00 am

Texas State Representative Allan Ritter is crossing over to the Republican Party, giving the G.O.P. 100 of the 150 seats in the House. Ritter’s move will help Republicans enact their agenda, the Texas Tribune reports . That’s because a two-thirds majority is needed in the House to suspend rules that allow lawmakers to delay action. Democrats have used those rules successfully in the past, including in 2009, when they blocked a bill to require voters to show identification at the polls. If the Republican caucus stays united, it will now have the votes to overcome those tactics. Ritter represents the town of Nederland, in a Republican-trending area near Texas’ Gulf Coast.

With most legislatures out of session and no time for new policy initiatives, several outgoing governors are spending their last days in office reviewing pardons.  New York ‘s David Paterson last week pardoned six legal immigrants who were facing deportation for crimes he considered minor. He could issue more pardons in the days ahead. Outgoing Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell already has pardoned more people than any of his predecessors-a record officials attribute to a spike in pardon applications-but he’s still considering dozens more. Hawaii’s Linda Lingle issued 44 pardons between July 1 and the end of her tenure, compared to just 88 in her first seven-and-a-half years in office. And Colorado’s Bill Ritter says he’s still considering a “stack” of pardon requests. 

Georgia ‘s budget shortfall is getting worse and a key legislator says that could provide momentum for a tax overhaul. Some reports have placed the budget gap for the next fiscal year at around $1 billion, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill says the number is likely to be about $2 billion, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports . Hill suggested that the state could couple an income tax cut with a broadening of the sales tax to include currently exempt services, a combination that could bring in more money and be politically palatable to tax-averse lawmakers. Republicans have expanded their majorities in both houses of the legislature and the governorship will remain in Republican hands under the newly elected Nathan Deal.   “I don’t believe a tax increase pure and simple could pass this Legislature,” Hill said. 

South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley wants to prevent Boeing’s workers from unionizing. Her choice to lead the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation was picked to do just that, the State reports . Haley has named to the job Catherine Templeton , a lawyer who has worked to prevent employees of other firms from unionizing. Last year, Boeing picked North Charleston, South Carolina over its traditional home in Washington state for a plant that will assemble 787s. “I think we’re going to have a union fight as we go forward with Boeing,” Haley said. “We’re going to fight the unions and I needed a partner to help me do it.”

Ed Burckle was no sooner picked to head New Mexico ‘s General Services Department than he began receiving budget-cut assignments from incoming governor Susana Martinez  , the Santa Fe New Mexican reports . Martinez has told Burckle, a local economic development official, to sell the state’s executive jet. She’s also evaluating a “super-complex” of state office buildings that the state had been planning in Santa Fe. “We have to make sure we balance the budget at the end of the day,” says Martinez, a Republican who is replacing Democrat Bill Richardson. “We cannot do that by continuing to spend at the rate this administration has spent.” 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.