Making a Statement (in the Journal)

Several members made a statement on some of the most ideological votes cast in the House during the regular session. No, not that kind of “statement.” The kind of statement that goes into the official journal documenting they meant to vote another way.


Someone with House Admin should look into Rep. Dan Branch's voting machine malfunctions.
It happens from time to time with over a thousand record votes cast during the course of a regular session. Some members do step away for a moment to run back to their office, shake hands and snap a quick picture with a group of constituents outside the chamber, or grab a bite to eat. Other times when the proceedings on the floor are moving quickly, some may lose track and vote with the right intentions… just on the wrong bill.

That’s why the House allows members to enter a “statement” into the Journal after a record vote to indicate what vote they meant to cast.

The system on whole is beneficial. It allows taxpayers to see how their elected officials would have voted, or meant to vote if they hit the wrong button.

But in cases all too often, some members seem to game the system, casting a bad vote knowing they can just enter a statement in the journal and claim they meant to do the right thing.

Or in other cases, members conveniently leave the chamber and are counted absent when controversial votes are cast, allowing them to enter a journal statement to soften the blow of not taking a stand.

The Dallas Morning News suspected this might have been happening when Ways & Means Chairman Harvey Hilderbran was conspicuously absent for controversial votes on raising legislators’ pensions, and the infamous SB 346 bill targeting conservative political organizations, among others.

Whether or not Chairman Hilderbran (who’s all but declared he’s running for Comptroller) was ducking away to avoid tough votes as the DMN implies, or if he was simply away for committee business as he claims, is up for the voters to decide.

But it is interesting that Mr. Hilderbran tied for 3rd with the most journal statements on votes we at Texans for Fiscal Responsibility considered on our 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index.

The other three include Calendars Chairman Todd Hunter, State Rep. Lance Gooden, and Higher Education Chairman Dan Branch.

That’s an interesting breakdown, given that Chairman Branch is close to announcing his intention to run for Attorney General, Chairman Hilderbran is considering a run for Comptroller, and Chairman Hunter is widely rumored to be looking at a run for speaker on the chance current Speaker Joe Straus decides to step down.

Again, this is factoring in only the votes scored on the 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index, not their entire voting history throughout the regular session. But many votes on our Index do reflect many of the fiscally-oriented ideological votes cast that separated the conservative bloc from the more moderate establishment-type Republicans and Democrats.

We’ll leave it to you, the taxpayer, to form your own opinions about the pattern of journal statements inserted by the members mentioned above. Here is a table of the votes taken where at least one of these aforementioned members entered a statement into the journal on a vote scored on our Index:

 

VOTE (TFR Position)
DAN BRANCH
LANCE GOODEN
HARVEY HILDERBRAN
TODD HUNTER
HB 1600 (PUC), Amendment 8 by Krause to remove new cease-and-desist power being given to unelected bureaucracy. RV77 HJ883 (Support)
n/a
n/a
Shown voting no. Intended to vote yes.
n/a
SB1 (budget), Amendment 12 by Farrar, nonsensically requiring comptroller to "include in the tax policy e-newsletter" notice that a mother can breastfeed anywhere in public. RV150 HJ1243 (Oppose)
n/a
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
SB1 (budget), Amendment 27 by Walle, eliminating dollars to the Texas Enterprise Fund. RV158 HJ1258 (Oppose motion to table)
n/a
n/a
Shown voting no. Intended to vote yes.
n/a
SB1 (budget), Amendment 51 by Burnam & Zerwas, opening the door to Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare. RV161 HJ1272. (Oppose)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
SB1 (budget), Amendment 95 by Herrero, prohibiting funding for implementing parental choice programs. RV169 HJ1306. (Oppose)
n/a
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
n/a
SB1 (budget), motion to instruct conferees not to adopt language allowing for the expansion of Medicaid. RV253 HJ1705 (Support)
Vote failed to register. Would have voted yes.
n/a
n/a
n/a
HB 1717, Amendment 1 by Schaefer, eliminating the licensing requirements for interior designers. RV258 HJ1717 (Oppose motion to table)
n/a
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted yes.
n/a
The motion to reconsider the defeat of HB 2197 (a vote that thereby eliminated the Lottery Commission). RV282 HJ1768. (Oppose reconsideration)
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
n/a
n/a
n/a
SB 945, new regulation on hospitals, requiring employees to wear IDs. RV398 HJ2053 (Oppose)
Absent because of important business in the district. Would have voted no.
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
n/a
HB 3238, creating a needle exchange program. RV502 HJ2334 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
HB 852, interfering in the market by making it illegal to transport lawfully caught shark fins. RV508 HJ2370 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
HB 2782, giving more power to the commissioner of insurance to interfere in the health insurance market. RV521 HJ2385 (Oppose)
Vote failed to register. Would have voted no.
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
HB 1809, allowing "cultural" entities to use taxpayer resources when leasing or purchasing land, when private money should be used. RV523 HJ2387 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
SB 1312, creating new regulations on veterinary medicine and barriers to becoming a technician. RV545 HJ2410 (Oppose)
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
n/a
HB 3536, a tax increase advocated by large companies onto small companies. RV577 HJ2522 (Oppose)
Vote failed to register. Would have voted no.
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
HB 170, mandating new insurance coverages. RV647 HJ2636 (Oppose)
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
SB 620 (in lieu of HB 1073), new student loan program. RV674 HJ2772 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
HB 887, new nanny-state regulations on high school sports. RV678 HJ2775 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
HB 2038, expanding state programs that should be eliminated: the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities and Interagency Council for Addressing Disproportionality. RV689 HJ2831 (Oppose)
Vote failed to register. Would have voted no.
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
SB376 (in lieu of HB296), requiring certain school districts to begin providing a free breakfast. RV693 HJ2851 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
HB 1790, reducing costs in the criminal justice system by procedures for those who complete community supervision. RV744 HJ2907 (Support)
n/a
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted yes.
n/a
HB 613, new regulations on foundation repair contractors. RV747 HJ2916 (Oppose)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
SB 346, creating unconstitutional requirements on political speech while exempting labor unions from the new rules. RV811 HJ3114. (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
SJR 13, reducing citizen choices in elections for only some state offices, and empowering bureaucracies. RV845 HJ3349 (Oppose)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Excused for committee business. Would have voted yes.
SB 1459, Amendment 2 by Isaac removing tie between legislators' pensions from that of district judges. RV988 HJ3787 (Oppose motion to table)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted no.
SB 219, Amendment 12 by Geren, voiolating constitutional protections against donor threats and intimidation (mimicking SB346). RV992 HJ3804 (Oppose)
n/a
Shown voting yes. Intended to vote no.
n/a
n/a
SB 219, Amendment 30 by Capriglione, requiring legislators to disclose government contracts entered into by themselves, their family or their businesses. RV995 HJ3820 (Support)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Shown voting no Intended to vote yes.
SB 7, Amendment 26 by Leach, prohibiting the future expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare without the authorization of the Legislature. RV998 HJ3866 (Support)
n/a
n/a
n/a
Was away from his desk when vote was taken. Would have voted yes.
HB 1025 House-Senate conference report, draining the ESF for non-emergency spending. RV1334 HJ5113 (Oppose)
Vote failed to register. Would have voted yes.
n/a
n/a
n/a

 

A list of all members and the number of statements they entered into the journal on a vote scored on our Index:

 

FirstLastDistrictPartyTotal
AlmaAllen131D0
RobertoAlonzo104D0
CarolAlvarado145D2
RafaelAnchia103D2
Charles "Doc"Anderson56R6
TrentAshby57R2
JimmieAycock54R1
CecilBell3R3
DwayneBohac138R6
GregBonnen25R5
DennisBonnen24R2
DanBranch108R9
CindyBurkett113R5
LonBurnam90D0
Angie ChenButton112R4
BillCallegari132R1
TerryCanales40D3
GiovanniCapriglione98R1
StefaniCarter102R5
TravisClardy11R1
GarnetColeman147D0
NicoleCollier95D3
ByronCook8R0
PhilipCortez117D6
TomCraddick82R2
BrandonCreighton16R3
MyraCrownover64R6
TonyDale136R2
DrewDarby72R1
JohnDavis129R0
SarahDavis134R0
YvonneDavis110D0
JoeDeshotel22D1
DawnnaDukes46D0
HaroldDutton142D1
CraigEiland23D0
GaryElkins135R0
PatFallon106R0
JoeFarias118D1
MarshaFarney20R4
JessicaFarrar148D0
AllenFletcher130R4
DanFlynn2R3
JamesFrank69R1
JohnFrullo84R2
CharlieGeren99R3
HelenGiddings109D0
CraigGoldman97R3
LarryGonzales52R1
MaryGonzalez75D1
NaomiGonzalez76D1
LanceGooden4R11
Robert "Bobby"Guerra41D3
RyanGuillen31D2
RolandGutierrez119D0
PatriciaHarless126R5
LindaHarper-Brown105R2
AnaHernandez Luna143D1
AbelHerrero34D1
HarveyHilderbran53R9
DonnaHoward48D0
DanHuberty127R6
BryanHughes5R2
ToddHunter32R12
JasonIsaac45R5
EricJohnson100D0
KyleKacal12R5
JimKeffer60R2
SusanKing88R7
PhilKing61R5
KenKing71R1
TracyKing80D1
TimKleinschmidt17R2
StephanieKlick91R2
LoisKolkhorst13R0
MattKrause93R1
JohnKuempel44R1
LyleLarson122R2
JodieLaubenberg89R1
GeorgeLavender1R1
JeffLeach67R0
TryonLewis81R2
OscarLongoria35D0
J.M.Lozano43R3
EddieLucio38D1
MarisaMarquez77D0
ArmandoMartinez39D1
TreyMartinez Fischer116D0
RuthMcClendon120D0
JoseMenendez124D2
BorrisMiles146D5
DougMiller73R3
RickMiller26R1
JoeMoody78D1
GeanieMorrison30R0
SergioMunoz36D3
JimMurphy133R0
ElliotNaishtat49D1
Alfonso "Poncho"Nevarez74D0
ReneOliveira37D0
RobOrr58R2
JohnOtto18R1
ChrisPaddie9R1
TanParker63R2
DianePatrick94R3
Mary AnnPerez144D0
CharlesPerry83R2
LarryPhillips62R3
JoePickett79D1
JimPitts10R0
FourPrice87R2
JohnRaney14R3
BennettRatliff115R1
Richard PenaRaymond42D0
RonReynolds27D0
DebbieRiddle150R1
AllanRitter21R0
JustinRodriguez51D1
EddieRodriguez125D0
ToniRose110D2
ScottSanford70R1
MattSchaefer6R0
KennethSheets107R3
RalphSheffield59R2
J.D.Sheffield55R1
RonSimmons65R3
DavidSimpson7R2
WayneSmith128R2
JohnSmithee86R2
DrewSpringer68R0
PhilStephenson85R0
JonathanStickland92R3
MarkStrama50D0
JoeStraus121R0
VanTaylor66R1
EdThompson29R4
SenfroniaThompson141D3
SteveToth15R5
E. ScottTurner101D2
ChrisTurner33R1
SylvesterTurner139D0
JasonVillalba114R0
MichaelVillarreal123D0
HubertVo149D1
ArmandoWalle140D0
JamesWhite19R2
PaulWorkman47R5
GeneWu137D0
BillZedler96R1
JohnZerwas28R0

The date of the full release of the 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index will be announced when it becomes clear there will not be any more fiscal or budgetary issues added to the call of the current special session, or a subsequent special session called shortly thereafter.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dustin Matocha is the Executive Director of Empower Texans. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.

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