Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Evolution of the Texas Speaker

I recently read Patrick Cox and Michael Phillips' The House Will Come to Order. This isn't so much an analysis of the evolution of the Speaker's power as an examination of legislative history as seen through the Speaker's office and the House. However, it does provide some insight into the development of the Speaker's power since 1846.

The Speakership began as a revolving post with each Speaker holding office for one term. Not until the 20th Century did Speakers begin to hold consecutive terms in the office, but the real development of the Speaker's power began after the Sharpstown scandal with the Speakership of Billy Clayton. Clayton, Gibbs, Laney and Craddick all held multiple terms in the Speaker's chair. They also worked on expanding staff, setting the agenda for the House and generally expanding the power of the Speaker. These things had been done before, but they were not sustained until Clayton, et al ascended to the Speaker's chair.

The Texas Ethics Commission makes available the code dealing with the election of the Speaker, as well as several opinions regarding contributions, etc.

Sam Rayburn - pictured above - served as Speaker of the Texas House and Speaker of the U.S. House.

You can learn more about the Speakers of the Texas House here and here.

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