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Hot List: Day 2 of the Legislature

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The Lead

And now the real work begins. The 83rd Legislature was all pomp and ceremony on its opening day. Today lawmakers begin getting down to business.

The House convenes at 10 a.m. and the Senate gavels in at 11, or somewhere thereabouts. Both chambers will be significantly emptier today. Should be a slow day in the House, but the Senate is expected to pass its rules for the session. That’s an opportunity for the first floor fight, though the most important issue—the fate of the two-thirds rule—seems already settled.

Otherwise, most folks around the Capitol will be nursing their hangovers from the opening day festivities.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The fight over the House speakership fizzled. Sophomore Rep. David Simpson withdrew his name, and Joe Straus, as expected, won a third term in the big chair. The Statesman has more details. Mazel tov!

2. Looks like the Senate’s two-thirds rule will be around this session—mostly. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said yesterday that the rule, which allows 11 senators to block passage of any bill, would remain, as the Texas Tribune reports. But Dewhurst didn’t rule out exempting certain bills from the two-thirds standards, so keep that in mind. Dewhurst pulled that stunt last session with voter ID. The Statesman’s Mike Ward writes that the Dan Patrick-led conservative opposition could muster only eight or nine votes against the two-thirds rule.

3. On the Observer site, we report on Rick Perry’s speech in the Senate yesterday. He sketched out his priorities for the session. They will sound familiar.

4. There was a terrifically eclectic mix of people rallying and protesting at the Capitol. The rain forced everyone inside, which made for some interesting scenes, as the Observer’s Patrick Michels found out.

5. And last, but certainly not least, David Simpson—fresh off conceding the speaker’s race—held a little-noticed, heavily Christian “election sermon” in the Capitol auditorium late yesterday afternoon. The Observer’s Beth Cortez-Neavel and Liz Farmer have a dispatch.

Line of the Day:

“They did not come to acknowledge some general God, or Allah, they came specifically to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ.” —Pastor Douglas Phillips discussing the founding fathers at the David Simpson-hosted “election sermon” in the Capitol auditorium late Tuesday afternoon.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The rules debate in the Senate. The Lege is all about its rules (at least till they decide to suspend ’em). While rules debates can sometimes be tedious, they’re also important because they set the guidelines for the legislative process.

2. The fate of the two-thirds rule. Without it, the Senate would be an utterly different place. It now seems likely to survive, but can you ever be certain?

3. Perry, Dewhurst and Straus. They’ll hold their beginning-of-the-session joint press conference this morning. These gatherings aren’t always that newsworthy, but, still, it’s the three most powerful people in Texas in one room.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.