Require a TX Senate supermajority in the TX Constitution

To follow Friday's post in favor of term limits for Texas' governor, today I argue that the Texas Senate should require a supermajority, but put it in the constitution.

By tradition, the Texas Senate has required a 2/3 supermajority, but it's not a terribly firm tradition. Any session, the majority could decide to do away with the tradition, as they have done at various points in the past.

In my opinion, we should add a constitutional amendment that requires a 60% majority. That's the same as the US Senate (which also once required 2/3). With the current 31 seats, that would require 18.6 votes, or 19.

It seems to me that Republicans would be likely to favor this. Republicans don't trust Democrats not to do away with the supermajority tradition if Democrats ever regain control of the Senate. Moreover, Republicans occupy exactly 19 seats right now, so it's enough to pass bills that are unanimously popular among Republicans.

Democrats might oppose it simply because Republicans currently occupy 61% of seats. It means that Republicans will pass Voter ID -- although Republicans are almost definitely going to pass it anyway. On the other hand, it places a definite goal by which Democrats can regain negotiating power; all they have to do is pick up a single seat in the state Senate. That is a better deal than if Republicans simply decide to get rid of the blocker bill completely.

I like this solution because it firmly establishes a tradition that most favor. Whereas the current tradition doesn't seem likely to remain intact for too much longer, placing a supermajority provision in the Texas Constitution would place the tradition on a much more permanent foundation.

Posted by Evan @ 12/06/10 05:13 AM


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