Yesterday, I went to Austin in a bus chartered by Rep. Eric Johnson with about 50 of his constituents and supporters. Thousands of people filled the Capitol building to watch the swearing in of the 84th Texas Senate and House of Representatives. Johnson reserved a committee room from which his group could watch the ceremony.
Secretary of State Nandita Berry presided over the House session through the election of Rep. Joe Strauss as Speaker. She began with a very partisan speech about the diversity of the state, mentioning representatives and what they represent — like the San Antonio district where Toyota Tundras are manufactured and the Plano district where Toyota is moving its U.S. headquarters. Quite noticeably, she omitted any mention of Democratic Dallas while managing to mention every other major city in the state.
The Plano delegation and a few of its supporters, like Tarrant County Rep. Matt Krauss, may have effectively ended any power the Tea Party will have in this session by supporting Rep. Scott Turner of Frisco in the election for Speaker. After Turner lost, getting just 19 votes, Turner spent 25 minutes delivering a concession speech in which he berated the other members of the House for not voting for him.
My favorite part of the day: We were in and out of the Capitol several times during the day. Each time anyone enters the building, they pass through security. You can bypass security if you have a concealed weapon permit or when accompanied by a member of the Legislature. Well, you have to show the permit. All I had to do to get in was point to Johnson and say, “I’m with him.” I told Johnson that he’s much better than a concealed weapon permit.