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State House GOP agrees to select speaker in caucus

By BY PATRICK SVITEK AND CASSANDRA POLLOCK
Dec. 2, 2017 at 10:24 p.m.


Texas House Republicans agreed Friday to change their rules for selecting the next house speaker, paving the way for a potentially more conservative leader of the chamber in 2019.

In a unanimous vote, the caucus decided to meet next December and work to rally around a speaker candidate before going to the full floor, according to lawmakers who emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting Friday afternoon. The caucus will hold additional rounds of voting if a speaker contender does not win two-thirds support on the first ballot.

The decision is in line with a proposal the full caucus received last month from a working group looking into the possibility of a bylaws change on the issue. One of the questions that proposal left open — whether the caucus speaker vote should be open ballot or secret ballot — was settled Friday, with legislators agreeing to the latter.

The bylaws change has no enforcement mechanism, meaning that there will be no formal consequences for members who vote for a speaker candidate on the floor other than the caucus choice. State Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, said he was not too concerned about that after seeing the unity that the caucus displayed Friday.

"I just believe that they will," Simmons told reporters, referring to GOP members sticking together on the floor. "But there's no guarantee. Everybody's their own person. They do what they think is right. I just believe that they will."

The vote comes weeks after House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, made a bombshell announcement that he will not run for re-election next year.

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