Thursday, May 12, 2005

What Can #2 Really Do?

This afternoon the House passed HB 2330 that will largely eliminate the Top Ten Percent rule. The close vote, 73-69, followed an emotional debate. A number of African-American representatives made pointed remarks about how they believed that passage of the bill would hurt diversity at state universities, despite the contention by the bill's author Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) to the contrary. Earlier in today's debate, Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) had tried to put an amendment on the bill that would guarantee that it would in fact promote more diversity.
Turner holds the position of Speaker Pro Tempore, which allegedly is second in command to the Speaker. But Chairwoman Morrison refused to accept the amendment, saying that she had not been given sufficient time to read it. Turner asked her to pull down the bill for an hour so she could read his amendment. After a brief consultation with Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) and other leaders, Morrison declined, and the House voted down the amendment.
The incident raised the question of what real value Turner's title actually has. The question is clearly on his mind as well. During his final speech against the bill, a clearly frustrated Turner said: "I didn't come to be Speaker Pro-Tem on my own and I hope and pray that it wasn't because of the way I looked."