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TX Rep. Dukes Issues Statement on 'Pairing' with Pitts on HB 3 Vote

Austin, TX –

Following is a statement from State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) on her "pairing" with Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) for voting on HB 3 on the House floor:

"Yesterday evening I returned to Austin from a pre-planned trip to France to find that there was a flurry of media attention around a private decision between Chairman Pitts and myself to pair our votes on HB3 in my absence. Since I was in transit from France, I was not aware of any statements to the public or on the House floor, speculations of the events that occurred or comments that were being made in my defense or against Chairman Pitts and me.

"My travel arrangements were made and restricted tickets purchased for this trip in April 2005 after the Education Bill and Appropriations Bill passed both the House and the Senate. There was no reason to believe the Governor would veto those measures triggering a Special Session in July 2005.

"My travel to France was at no time a secret. I included reference to the trip during an interview of me taken in March 2005 that is illustrated in the July 2005 issue of Austin Woman. I openly informed Speaker Craddick, his Chief of Staff, the Parliamentarian, members of the Travis County delegation, Democratic Caucus members, Texas Legislative Black Caucus members as well as my staff that I would be in France from June 30 - July 7th. The House adjourned on June 28th and did not reconvene until Tuesday, July 5th. There was no calendar for the House on July 5th. It was uncertain whether legislation would be taken up on the 6th or 7th of July. In the unlikely event that HB3 would be taken up on the House calendar, I made arrangements under House Rule 5 Section 50 which allows for paired votes.

"If there were any statements or comments by anyone which were misleading concerning my whereabouts, those statements while appreciated were without my permission and I extend an apology. I never attempted to hide that I was traveling for personal family reasons to France. I requested to be excused from the proceedings of that day to not mislead anyone about my presence or vote. As well in extra precaution, I arranged to pair my vote with my dear friend, Chairman Pitts, an honorable man whom I respect and whose friendship I cherish. I wanted to ensure that my opposition on behalf of District 46 to HB3 would be recognized in my absence under House Rule 5 Section 50 which allows for paired votes.

"It was not until the evening of July 6, 2005 through an email from my staff that I was informed that the pairing agreement between Chairman Pitts and me would not be honored. Unfortunately, I was in France and unable to arrange an immediate flight to the states in time for the vote.

"I am back in the Texas. I assure you it is truly speculative that if any of the sequence of events had been different, that HB3 would not have had the required votes to pass 2nd reading. The HB3 discussion is far from over. The bill is in the Senate. After the conference committee meets, the final vote will be taken in the House. God willing, I will be in attendance to cast a vote on HB3."