Texas's fugitive legislators


I’m just curious, are the legislators legally obligated to provide a quorum? Why does the Speaker of the House seem to have executive power (ordering the police?) If not, what is the legal basis for forcing them to attend?

A legislative body, through a process usually known as a “call of the house,” has the power of compelling its members’ attendance. The power belongs not to the presiding officer, but to the body itself, and is one of the few measures that the house can take without a quorum (the others being adjourn, recess, and fix the time to which to adjourn).


Is this a Constitutional clause (which I don’t ever recall seeing) or is it a case-by-case basis?

New one to me, but I agree with the idea [sub]barring certain inavoidable limitations[/sub].

From the Texas House of Representatives, Rules of the House, 78th Legislature, Regular Session 2003, Rule 5:

This is a non-partisan comment…

Doesn’t it come off as childish to you? There is a reason the system works the way it does. If the concerns of the awol Democrats are legit, then they need to address the system, not run to Oklahoma stalling the entire legislative process in the state of Texas.

If it was publicity they were looking for, it was a grand success.

but what if you really, really have to go the bathroom?

It’s part of the tradition of democracy to find inventive ways to use the rules of procedure in an to extort your opponents as a last-resort effort. What they’re doing is really no different than, say, a filibuster in the US senate.

Being ignorant of the issues at stake regarding Texas’s redistricting, and therefore having no opinion on the matter, I can comfortably say I think it’s quite clever of them. :wink:

Please feel free to remove that errant “in an” from the first sentence of my post above.

FYI: Pit thread on this topic.

Hiding from a quorum is not new in Texas. The last time it happened was 1979.

Oh, and they’ll miss out on this biggie

Both the Texas House and Senate have passed a resolution in tribute to radio and television personality, Robert Weston Smith, known internationally as Wolfman Jack.
There will be a special reading of that resolution before both the House by Representative Pete Gallego and the Senate by Senator Frank Madla on May14th at 10:00 a.m.

Thanks, brian. . .

Just to nitpick though, it seems that the law is for securing a quorum once it’s in place. There was never one in the first place . . .

I say Texas Justice for the Texas rebels!! :smiley:

No, I’ve never been to Texas. I can’t say that in good faith.

Personally, I think it’s childish and unprofessional. I hope they are fined for the taxpayer money they’ve wasted and continue to waste by keeping the legislature in session twiddling its collective thumbs while they pat themselves on the back for their “cleverness”. I also hope thier opponents in the next election (including the Democrats who want to replace them) remember this fiasco and remind their consituents that these elected representatives shirked their responsibilities and ran to Oklahoma rather than attempting to work within the legislature to defeat legislation they don’t support.

Any elected official whose solution to a problem is to throw a tantrum and run away, making his/her state government a laughingstock in the process, deserves to see his/her political career go down in flames.

BTW, Friedo, this is very different from a filibuster. A filibuster is a tactic where one congressman basically stalls for time while his allies work to change votes on an issue - a delay in the decision-making process while a last-ditch attempt is made to try to save/kill an issue.

Running away from the legislative session they are legally required to attend does not change any votes and does not in any way continue the legal process they are supposed to be taking part in. It simply wastes the state government’s time and taxpayer money and is nothing but an attempt to throw a monkey-wrench in the system. Think of it this way - mounting a brilliant legal defense and changing a jury’s opinion is very different from skipping bail…

Oddly enough, this type of thing is not at all new. Only the LENGTHS (literally) to which the Democrats have gone to prevent a quorum are unprecedented.

Back in the days when Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, there was a similar situation in which Republican lawmakers were boycotting a session, so that there couldn’t be a forum. O’Neill sent out Congressional constables to being the absentee Republicans in by force. And, not surprisingly, there were Republican Congressman found hiding under desks or in closets!

Too bad none of them ever thought to flee to Oklahoma!

QUorum, not forum. Doh!

A call of the house is never ordered, in practice, unless a quorum is absent. The Texas House of Representatives has been conducting business throughout the current session with a quorum present. It was only when the Republican redistricting plan was coming to the floor that the Democratic minority disappeared in order to break a quorum and prevent the bill’s consideration.