Monday, March 21, 2005

Democracy, Texas Style

How do avoid removing language from a bill after an amendment to remove it has passed? Texas Republicans have found a way! You just say that some of the voting machines malfunctioned. At least, that's what Texas House of Representatives speaker Tom Craddick did with HB2, a bill designed to change the way public schools in Texas are funded, after an amendment to remove language that allows"at-risk" schools, schools with the lowest performance in the state, to be run by "for-profit" companies was passed. The vote was 73-70 for the amendment, but not to be denied, Craddick soon announced that four voting machines (all used by Republicans) had malfunctioned, causing their votes to be registered as for the amendment when they had actually voted against it. We may never know whether those four Republicans had actually intended to vote against the amendment or not, but it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. If Craddick and the House Republicans were that determined to keep the privatization language in the bill, votes were only a minor obstacle.