Out with Straus!

In 2016 Republicans won the Texas House by 97 to 53 and the Senate by 20 to 11, along with Republican Greg Abbott being elected governor, creating the most conservative Texas government in history. Elections should have consequences but, sadly, not in Texas. Why was so little accomplished in the 2017 legislative session that Gov. Abbott had to call a special session, where much important legislation continued to be passed by the Senate without even receiving a vote in the House?

Joe Straus, speaker of the House, is the Harry Reid of the Texas Legislature, killing many critical bills supported by a majority of Texans. By appointing liberals to key committee chair positions and to the House Calendars Committee, popular bills supported by a majority of representatives and voters are discreetly killed in committee without any accountability to voters. This is a shrewd but shameful way to defraud Texans!

State Rep. Doc Anderson and other Texas House members must put an end to Straus’ flagrant abuse of power by changing House rules that give the speaker so much political power that he had $8 million in his campaign war chest in the 2016 election cycle. The election of the speaker must be made by secret ballot. Committee chairs must be selected in an open process and not appointed by the speaker. Finally, rules must include the kind of discharge petition used in the U.S. Congress to make it impossible to kill bills in committee that are supported by a majority of the representatives, which happened frequently in the 2017 session.

Walter L. Bradley, Waco

Minimum wage

This Labor Day employers and employees have reason to be grateful: The union-backed campaign to eliminate starter jobs is failing.

The Service Employees International Union has spent at least $90 million since 2012 fighting for a $15 minimum wage. Thus far, the campaign has generated few organizing wins for the union — but plenty of embarrassing headlines. In East and West Coast locales that have embraced the cause of labor’s wage warriors, small businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down entirely. A study from a team of economists at the University of Washington determined that Seattle’s minimum-wage experiment left many employees worse off when the mandated bump in hourly pay was offset by a loss of workplace opportunities.

Economists of all political stripes have denounced $15 minimum wage and even policymakers in left-of-center locales such as Cleveland and Baltimore have rejected it. It’s no surprise SEIU has slashed funding for its campaign. That means less money for labor’s campaign — and more opportunities for those doing the laboring.

Michael Saltsman, Employment Policies Institute, Washington, D.C.