The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) is holding its final 2016 quarterly meeting this weekend, December 2 and 3 in Austin.
The SREC is the board of directors for the state party. Each of the 31 Texas senatorial districts elects two committee members every two years at the state GOP convention by the delegates of each senatorial district. Party bylaws require that there must be a committee member of each gender per senatorial district and that the executive committee meets quarterly.
Heavy turnover was the end result of the 2016 SREC convention elections back in May and the new composition of committee members appear to stand further to the right on the political spectrum than the office of the party chairman, Tom Mechler.
The first meeting of the SREC following the convention was highlighted by a contentious showdown between the chairman and mostly the new SREC members over Mechler’s committees and committee assignments. Mechler’s blueprint for SREC committees was rebuffed, he was forced to reconstruct the committees, and votes on the composition and forming of committees was held over until this weekend’s meeting.
One of the freshman SREC members is Pastor Terry Holcomb of Senatorial District 3. Giving a preview of this weekend’s meeting on RagingElephantsRadio.com, Holcomb outlined three critical votes that will take place at the outset.
To preface, Mechler has shown an elitist and exclusionary streak when it comes to media. Prior to the 2016 state convention, RagingElephantsRadio.com was apparently the only media outlet that was denied media credentials to cover the convention with all indications pointing to Mechler’s disapproval of RER coverage of his term as interim chair following the resignation of former Chairman Steve Munisteri and his campaign to be elected to a full term by the convention delegation. SREC Member J.T. Edwards of SD11, apologized on behalf of the SREC and the TxGOP to RER, live on RER the week following the convention, for the behavior of the Chairman’s office and the hostile environment Mechler created toward the media with his exclusion of RER from media privileges.
Transparency of committee meetings via corporate media and citizen journalists, and the images produced, sets up the first contentious vote on the weekend’s agenda. Holcomb said, “One of the one’s (votes) that I’m right in the middle of fighting for is the ability to live (video) stream the meetings to our constituents in our SDs. They’re trying to stop that. We believe we have the votes to go ahead and prevail on that.” Currently the office of the party chairman controls all video images produced from SREC meetings.
“From the last SREC, they voted to stop all recordings except by the RPT staff themselves”, Holcomb explained. “In the convention, this time, the convention said ‘we want SREC members to be able to record’ and that’s where it stands today. But there appears to be a faction that wants to stop that. They want to undue the will of the body. Not only on that issue, but on a second issue.” Holcomb remains confident that transparency will win and feels that the SREC should be leading the efforts on public meeting transparency.
The vote on streaming and recording is expected to be the first vote to come to floor because it will have a direct impact on how the remainder of the meeting will be conducted. For at least the debate and vote on the streaming issue, Texans will be able to pick the video stream from various sources. However, once the votes are casts and tallied, that could all change.
The delegation to the 2016 RPT convention also addressed how the SREC is to amend bylaws. Yet, Holcomb reports that some members are looking to shape the procedure to their liking going to his point that the faction in favor of this action is once again defying the will of the convention that concretely set the procedure in place for bylaw changes.
Critical vote number three has to do with the SREC’s Legislative Committee. “We want to make the Legislative Committee a standing committee and not an ad hoc committee. The convention spoke very loud and clear, that they expect the SREC to work very hard on the legislative priorities that came out of the convention. Currently the Legislative Committee is an ad hoc committee which means it could go away tomorrow by the will of the Chair. And that’s not what the body intended,” stated Holcomb.
Holcomb said that SREC member Jeremy Blosser from SD10 has constructed a bylaws amendment to make the Legislative Committee a standing committee which Holcomb says it must become.
“I expect the (recording) rule vote to come up first. Because they definitely don’t want those other votes to be streamed and recorded. I can tell you that, right now.”
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