Op-Ed: Texas Republican Senators, You have a Mandate to Drive!

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This article was authored and contributed to Breitbart Texas by JoAnn Fleming.

With the election of a new Texas governor and lieutenant governor who didn’t run to the mushy middle to get elected, conservative Republican legislators were given a mandate – the proverbial keys to the governance car, and when Texas voters hand you the keys, you’d better drive!

The Texas Senate got off to a roaring start last week by ditching the status quo-protecting 2/3 rule and replacing it with a 3/5 rule.

For decades, the rules of the Texas Senate required two-thirds of the members present to agree to take a bill up for consideration outside of a process called the “Regular Order of Business.” This meant 21 of 31 state senators had to agree to take up a bill for debate and a floor vote. Without approval of 21 senators, a bill had zero chance of making it to the governor’s desk during a regular session. Under the new 3/5 rule, 19 senators (still a super majority) will be required to move bills to the floor for debate and a vote.

To understand how the “rule of 21” worked against conservative legislation, it is important to note that during the 83rd legislative session (2013), the Texas Senate consisted of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The Senate of the 84th legislative session is comprised of 20 Republicans and 10 Democrats, with one Democratic seat to be decided in a special election.

Long championed as the “principled” way to give the minority party a voice, the 2/3 rule had become a way for moderate Republicans to work with Democrats to prevent conservative reform bills from ever reaching the floor for debate. From pro-life bills to stricter spending limits to property tax reform to American Laws for American Courts, the 2/3 rule was a convenient way for moderates of both parties to work together to kill conservative bills that a majority of Texas voters clearly wanted passed.

With the 2014 primary election defeat of two of the most liberal Republican senators by TEA party conservatives and the addition of six other conservative freshmen senators, the tone and focus of the Texas senate have changed. This infusion of eight clear-eyed conservatives has brought about the change new Lt. Governor Dan Patrick had long called for as a freshman senator in 2007 and in his campaign for lieutenant governor – the end of the reform-suffocating 2/3 rule.

If there’s one thing Texas conservatives are tired of hearing, it’s excuses about why Republicans cannot get commonsense reforms passed and implemented – especially when they are in the majority! Most of us stopped drinking GOP Establishment Kool-Aid a long time ago because their record has convinced us that an “R” behind the name of a candidate or office holder is not a lifetime guarantee for limited government and liberty.

Republicans in Texas don’t run as moderate, centrist, establishment candidates. The packaging and the advertising says they are all pro-gun, pro-life, pro-traditional values, pro-limited government, pro-freedom conservatives when they run for office. Unfortunately, the collective governing results in Austin have often proved otherwise, but it’s a new day in the Texas Senate. The 2/3 safe haven for moderates has been removed.

As the left-of-center media and Big Government special interests proclaim the sky has fallen and life as we know it has ended with the death of the 2/3 rule, they should remember that elections have consequences. If the people of Texas had wanted the Democrats to run state government, they would have elected them.

Texas Republican Senators have a chance to lead the way. They are off to a great start to make Texas the leader in smaller government and the champion of liberty.

The people gave Republicans the keys to leadership. They expect the Republicans to hop in the driver’s seat, rev up the engine, and drive the conservative reforms home.

JoAnn Fleming is the Executive Director of Grassroots America.