Straus Elected Speaker of the House in Texas, Simpson Bows Out

By:  Kurt Hyde
Straus Elected Speaker of the House in Texas, Simpson Bows Out

Texas Rep. David Simpson, the author of TSA anti-groping bill, bows out from speaker's contest in the Texas House of Representatives due to "fear of retribution" as Joe Straus is once again elected for the position.

State Representative Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was elected Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives as the first order of business in the 2013 legislative session. He fended off a challenge by Representative David Simpson (R-Longview), the state representative who made national news last session with his TSA Anti-Groping bill. The Speaker of the House vote was by acclamation rather than a roll-call vote. Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) had earlier indicated he would stay in the race up to a roll call vote, but changed his mind at the request of a number of his supporters. In his withdrawal speech, Simpson said:

If fear of retribution were not so very real, conscientious support for an alternative choice for Speaker would not cause such trepidation. But since it is, and absent a certainty of winning this contest, at the request of my colleagues, I withdraw my candidacy.

Alice Linahan, Director of Women on the Wall (WOW), said she spoke with a number of state representatives who indicated fear of retribution if they voted for Simpson. The speaker’s office in Texas has become a powerful position appointing 72 percent of the committee chairmen. Many people consider the choice of speaker to be one of the most important votes in a legislative session. In the Texas Legislature, a chairman of a substantive committee can keep a bill from passing by never holding a hearing on it. If a bill has a hearing and is favorably voted by the substantive committee, it’s then forwarded to the Calendars Committee which decides if and when to schedule it for consideration on the floor.

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Photo of Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus: AP Images

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