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Texas Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter State Capitol E-Report
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August 12, 2011:

  • Sierra Club Releases Texas State Legislative Voting Records for 2011
    The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has released its compilation of environmental voting records for members of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate in the 2011 regular session. The Chapter has prepared such voting record analyses for most of the biennial sessions going back over almost 35 years. The votes made by Texas legislators on bills or amendments to bills on the House and Senate floors are an important measure - although not the only measure - of how those legislators approach environmental issues. The voting records compiled by the Sierra Club are released to the public in order to hold state legislators accountable for the actions they take on environmental issues.

    Fifteen record votes on the floor of the Texas House were scored in the 2011 analysis on a wide range of subjects, including clean water protection, citizen rights in pollution permit hearings, energy efficiency, public disclosure of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, radioactive waste management, regulation of greenhouse gases, and the public’s right to sue for protection from pollution. Eleven record votes on the floor of the Texas Senate were scored. Senate record votes were on such issues as groundwater ownership, shielding greenhouse gas emitters from lawsuits, energy efficiency, mercury contamination in fish, hydraulic fracturing, and air emissions from oil and gas facilities.

    Some of the record votes are on legislative actions that may strike those unfamiliar with the Texas legislative process as procedural in nature. But students of Texas government know, for example, that the critical vote on a bill on the Senate floor is usually the vote on the motion to suspend the regular order of business to take up and consider a piece of legislation. That vote traditionally takes 2/3 of the Senators present (that tradition has been damaged somewhat by the 82nd Legislature though) whereas the actual passage of a bill requires only a simple majority vote. Thus we believe that it is a better gauge of a Senator’s position to see how he or she votes on the “motion to suspend” rather than on how he or she votes on the bill itself after a motion to take up the bill has been approved.

    We have declined to assign a public grade or score to each legislator. The record votes on different topics speak for themselves. Some legislators whose overall environmental voting record is not that great may be allies on certain issues. Looking at the records, however, it becomes fairly clear who is dependable and who is not on environmental matters. Freshman Senator Brian Birdwell of Waco and former House Speaker Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland had the distinction of not voting for the environmental position on any of the record votes. Several other legislators were one vote shy of that perfect(ly bad) record.

    The 2011 voting records were compiled by Lone Star Chapter Director Ken Kramer with input from Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed. Sierra Club intern Ben Wollam assisted with the compilation of the Texas House Voting Record.

    For the Texas 82nd Legislature House voting record and the Texas Senate voting record go to: http://texas.sierraclub.org/Legislature/votingrecord.asp
  • The State Capitol E-Report is a monthly electronic update from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club reporting on Texas environmental policy issues of statewide interest. Contact us or unsubscribe at: lonestar.chapter@sierraclub.org
    ...Header photo "Salt Marsh, Indianola " copyright Charles Kruvand from The Living Waters of Texas, Texas A&M Press...

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