"Majority rule, minority rights." It's one of the first axioms you learn in civics, social studies or whatever your elementary school called it. It's part of the American social contract, that those out of power in a legislative body have at least some means to check the actions of those in power.
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In the Texas Senate, for more than half a century, the so-called "two-thirds rule" has been that means. At the beginning of each legislative session a blocker bill was passed. To debate any other bill, two-thirds of the Senate, 21 of 31 members, was required to agree to the suspension of regular rules, bypassing the blocker bill. Until Wednesday.
That's when state senators voted 20 to 10 to change the two-thirds rule to the three-fifths rule. Now, only 19 votes are required to suspend regular Senate rules. Republicans hold 20 seats in the chamber.More »