Now that the 2019 legislative session is over, it’s time to reflect on the legislators who impressed and those who disappointed. Texas Monthly was paying close attention all session, and recently published the 23rd edition of its Best and Worst Legislators list.
Senior Editor Carlos Sanchez says in years past, legislators were disappointed with the governor’s lack of engagement. But this session, Sanchez says Gov. Greg Abbott had a more hands-on approach, earning him the title of “Most Improved.”
“He kind of set of the agenda from the get-go, followed through, was a constant participant, was frequently on both the House and Senate floors,” Sanchez says. “He really had a good session and I think there was a lot of focus because of that.”
Sanchez says Texas Monthly also takes input from others who spent time at the Capitol during the session, including lobbyists and the legislators themselves. In fact, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s colleagues praised him for his close work with the governor.
“He was someone who gave, I think, Gov. Abbott additional backup in terms of the balance of power. It’s interesting that longtime members of the House were comparing Dennis Bonnen to Pete Laney when he was Speaker of the House,” Sanchez says. “And Pete Laney had a real philosophy of letting the member decide. And he would always advise the members to ‘Vote your constituents.’”
Sanchez says there are some on this year’s Worst List who’ve been there before – people like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But there were also some new additions, including Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez. Sanchez says he ended the session on a sour note after adding a nuclear waste provision to a domestic violence bill – a bill that had had strong bipartisan support but that Abbott ultimately vetoed.
“This is something that lawmakers called to our attention because they were furious with the antics of Poncho Nevárez,” Sanchez says.
Written by Geronimo Perez.