Regarding “Former lawmakers oppose rule change,” (A17, Feb. 12): Recently five former state senators wrote on these pages disagreeing with my comments indicating I would support a simple majority vote determining what bills come to the floor in the Texas Senate during a regular session.
In 2015, the Texas Senate voted to change the required number of votes needed to bring a bill to the floor from two-thirds (21 votes) to three-fifths (19 votes).
Before 2015, Democrats had used the 21-vote requirement to block any bill they didn’t like. Founding father James Madison once said a two-thirds vote in Congress would lead to the tyranny of the minority and that’s what happened in Texas. It required former Gov. Rick Perry to call 12 special sessions to pass legislation that was supported by the majority of Texas senators and Texas voters. In a special session, rules allow just a simple majority to bring a bill to the floor and pass it. These former senators seem to have forgotten how many special sessions we had during Perry’s tenure.
The senators vote on the rules at the beginning of each legislative session and ultimately, they will decide if we adopt majority rule — a bedrock principle of democracy — in the Texas Senate. My position is clear: I do not believe an arbitrary parliamentary rule should ever stop us from moving an agenda forward that has the support of the conservative majority in Texas.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick
(This letter was originally published in the Houston Chronicle)