Thursday, April 12, 2007

" ['Ric'] Williamson's holdover status has stimulated the discussions... "

Holdover' appointees targeted

Legislature: Senate leaders back bid to add chamber review when tenures of governor's picks end

April 12, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

AUSTIN – Key lawmakers, concerned that the governor is circumventing the Senate, said Wednesday that they'll join efforts to give the chamber more authority to review state board appointees.

The proposal targets "holdover" appointees, those whose terms have expired but who continue to serve until the governor reappoints them or names a replacement.

The issue has gained a higher profile because Gov. Rick Perry's friend, Ric Williamson, continues to chair the Texas Transportation Commission although his term expired in February.

The strong-willed, toll road-touting Mr. Williamson has detractors and would have a tough fight winning Senate approval if he were reappointed while the Legislature is in session.

But under current law, Mr. Perry can wait until the session adjourns May 28, then reappoint Mr. Williamson, who could continue to serve without Senate review until the next regular session, in January 2009.

Sens. Glenn Hegar, Steve Ogden and Mike Jackson have authored constitutional amendments to stop "holdovers" and make board members step down if they aren't formally reappointed. The bills differ in how long appointees can serve without being reappointed – ranging from no time to 30 days after a session begins to until the end of a regular session.

"The goal on all of these seems to be to ensure the Senate's advice and consent power is not thwarted by interim appointments," said Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, whose State Affairs Committee considered the bills.

Mr. Duncan asked the three senators to determine the best way to protect the integrity of the Senate's review and then return with one bill that can win approval.

While acknowledging that Mr. Williamson's holdover status has stimulated the discussions, Mr. Hegar, R-Katy, said the bill that emerges won't affect that appointment but will instead look toward avoiding a similar circumstance.

"I'm not just focusing on one or two commissions. I'm thinking of the state," Mr. Hegar said.

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co

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