North Texas Daily

Lt. Gov. Patrick not focused on representation

Lt. Gov. Patrick not focused on representation

February 05
00:13 2015

The Editorial Board

The Texas Legislature has become too partisan this session, with lawmakers achieving political gains instead of much-needed reform. The editorial board denounces the actions of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has made moves to exclude citizen concern, instead fixating on Republican Party gain.

We’ll start with Patrick. He is not the kind of leader we need in the statehouse. He speaks from the perspective of a hard-lined lawmaker, but his actions do not match his rhetoric.

Before officially being sworn in, Patrick announced formation of the Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Boards of Private Citizens. The six committees are Economic and Workforce Development, Economic Forecast, Energy/Oil and Gas, Tax Policy, Transportation and Water.

He told reporters in January the committee was set up in order to close the lawmaking gap between the public and politicians and to hear what the people want and need.

“This is for them to provide us with insight or new ideas,” Patrick told reporters. “Why would you want a legislative body to disconnect themselves from the private sector? That’s what Washington has done…”

Do not allow Patrick’s rhetoric to outweigh logic. Notice how he, and many of his colleagues, attempt to distant themselves from “Washington,” a political symbol of corruption and gridlock. Texans should concern themselves here because the inner circle of politics will become even more concealed and inaccessible.

The committees are made up of 55 Texas businesspeople, some mightily wealthy, and some have even donated to Patrick’s campaign. The Associated Press reported Patrick received nearly $2 million from his handpicked advisors.

One of the new advisors is T. Boone Pickens of Dallas, a well-known businessman who gave $36,089 on two separate instances in the filings 30 days prior to the 2014 midterm election. Marcus Hiles from Grand Prairie, who is on the Tax Policy committee, donated $100,000 according to contributions on the same report.

Money aside, Patrick’s desire for lawmakers to better engage Texans throughout the process on legislating is tolerable and warranted. However, this plan will not serve to the benefit of Texans. Rather than promote the voice of the public, this plan will shroud the Republican process.

Texans are prideful in their conservatism, but have become too trusting of their conservative representatives. Patrick is an example of this. We must not forget former Gov. Rick Perry is on trial for political corruption charges.

The economic climate, not the politics, propels this state to prominence. State politicians here have become masters of conservative rhetoric. Many Texans distrust the “politician,” but seem to regard Texas lawmakers as something less; do not be fooled. Do not regard them as political heroes, for they are in the same league as all other politicians.

Too often, liberal politicians are shaded by the right as corrupt and deceitful, but immorality has not a political party. Let us not forget former President Richard Nixon and Watergate, just as we remember the sex scandals of President Bill Clinton.

Campaign contributors should not influence policy. And any politician who allows a donor to influence policy should be reevaluated. We implore Texans to be leery of the Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Boards of Private Citizens. These advisors are buying legislative authority while thousands of Texans go unheard.

The Texas Senate, led by Patrick, made a historical move this session to change the voting structure. Passed on party lines, the new 3/5 rule only requires 19 votes to pass a bill, instead of 21 with the 2/3 majority rule. Of the 31 seats, only 11 belong to Democrats; Twenty belong to Republicans.

The authority Democrats have in Texas was slim before this new restructuring. Now the left has less of a presence in Austin, causing misrepresentation of Texans. Texas is mostly red, but Democratic voters still must have a voice in state law.

By heaving the Democrats to the side, state politics becomes even more lopsided, a step from which Republicans will most certainly benefit in the future. Strategically, Republicans have focused on “keeping Texas red,” a popular campaign idiom in the most recent election cycle. Here again, Republican tactics prioritized politics before representation.

Patrick campaigned along partisan lines, vowing to reduce the number of Democratic Senate Committee chairmanships. And he delivered. The 14 chairpeople include only two Democrats. Representation, again, was not a priority here; Patrick even admitted his partisan mission.

Politicians are human. And humans seek what is best for themselves. Lawmakers promote themselves to get ahead. Their voting record is their resume. But the issue with politics today is not their self-interest (that’s natural). It’s the disconnect between politicians and the citizenry.

The purpose of representative government is to simplify the process of democracy. But when politicians seek first their own needs, they are unable to fully fulfill their role in democracy.

Lawmaking in Texas should not be about party proliferation. Rather, Patrick is leading the way on misguided policymaking, too concerned with ousting the Democratic voice in the state.

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