"Owners’ box” (or “owner’s box") is the nickname for the gallery of the Texas House. In 2003, lobbyists sat there and the name “owners’ box” was a sly take by some critics that the lobbyists were “owners” and that the legislature was “bought.” The term is still used, unfortunately.
These United States:
Original Essays by Leading American Writers on Their State Within the Union
edited by John Leonard
New York, NY: Nation Books
Pg. 126 (Texas):
It is widely believed in Texas that the highest purpose of government is to create “a healthy bidness climate.” The legislature is so dominated by special interests that the gallery where the lobbyists sit is called “the owners’ box.”
Texas Monthly (May 2003)
Behind the Lines
So Far, So Bad
It’s a new era in Texas politics, but Republicans have been too busy fighting Democrats—and each other—to get anything done.
by Paul Burka
So much more could be written about this—how the Republicans completely prostrated themselves before the tort-reform lobby (Democrats called the area of the gallery where the lobbyists sat “the owners’ box"), how Craddick undermined his leadership by trying to pass the buck on a parliamentary ruling to the members—but let’s just leave it at this: It was the ugliest scene the Legislature has witnessed in years.
The Free Press
May 1, 2003
AUSTIN, Texas—Don’t worry about a thing! The Texas Legislature is riding to the rescue.
During the days of debate in the House, three of the top donors to Texans for Lawsuit Reform sat in the House gallery along with the speaker’s wife. This section of the gallery was christened “The Owners’ Box” by Democrats, and that’s just what it was.
Austin (TX) Chronicle (May 9, 2003)
From the Owners’ Box: Count on the Texas Legislature to Remember the Gold Rules
BY MICHAEL KING
The Free Press
The Texas Legislature
May 27, 2003
AUSTIN, Texas—It was horrible and sickening, but I could not stop watching the final days of the Texas Legislature. Fellow Texans, the ripple effects of this disaster will come to haunt us all.
During the debate on tort reform, Democrats took to referring to the part of the gallery where the big business interests lobbyists sit as “the owners’ box.” It sure ain’t the people’s legislature.
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From: “Gandalf Grey”
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 15:25:45 -0700
Local: Mon, Aug 9 2004 6:25 pm
Subject: Anti-Kerry Smear Campaign Donor and Bush Buddy Likes to Stay in the Dark
Top Texas Donor’s Influence Far More Visible Than He Is
Robert Perry is behind an ad attacking John Kerry’s war record and many GOP campaigns.
By Scott Gold
Times Staff Writer
August 8, 2004
NASSAU BAY, Texas - Robert J. Perry, the main financier behind the effort to discredit Sen. John F. Kerry’s military record, is the most prolific political donor in Texas.
Like many prominent building companies, Perry Homes has been sued dozens of times. Last year, Perry was among several developers watching as the Legislature imposed strict limits on civil lawsuits, particularly claims brought by homeowners alleging shoddy construction.
Critics called the seats where he and other builders watched the legislative debate the “owner’s box,” because much of their money had gone to advocacy groups fighting for limits on the civil court system, as well as politicians who supported those efforts.
The View From the ‘Owner’s Box’
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted June 2, 2005.
In order to lower property taxes, you have to raise them on something else. So of course the House decided to tax ordinary people, instead of taxing big corporations. Not for nothing is the House gallery, where the business lobbyists sit, known as “the Owner’s Box.”
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Campaigning with Guns
Do they sit in the owners box in the Texas Lege?
By ELLA TYLER
APR. 22, 2006
Gay-friendly Thompson takes aim at House speaker job
Representative seeks to restore bipartisanship
“I am serving my 17th term, and in the past three years, I have seen a disappearance of bipartisanship,” she said. “Legislation gets tweaked to the advantage of business and the disadvantage of the public by the people in what we call the ‘owners box,’” which Thompson defined as the place in the House gallery where business lobbyists sit.
Kinky Friedman - Dallas Dance Music
09-05-06, 10:27 AM
“The lobbyists are writing the legislation and giving the legislators their marching orders. In fact, the legislators call the gallery the owners’ box,” Friedman said. “They’re all bought and paid for, and that’s the problem. That’s why we’re not getting anything going with an energy program.”
You Can Lead a Politician to Water, But You Can’t make Him Think
by Kinky Friedman
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
There are good legislators, of course, who are just as frustrated as the rest of us. But, unfortunately, they are rarely in power positions. Something about the system tends to beat you down after a while and you realize that to have any voice at all, to even get reelected, you have to go along to get along. The lobbyists and the so-called leadership are necessary evils. It’s not unusual for lobbyists to write the legislation themselves and hand their bought-and-paid-for legislators their marching orders. That’s why some members of the Texas Legislature have taken to calling the section of the gallery where the lobbyists sit “the owner’s box.”
Houston (TX) Chronicle
May 25, 2007, 12:53AM
A behind-the-scenes battle for the Speaker’s seat
By R.G. RATCLIFFE
“One of the things you hear about Craddick is you have outside people, the owners’ box, the money people running things, and now we’re letting new people try to take over the speaker’s race,” Pitts said. “That’s wrong.”
November 2007, Texas Monthly:
That’s why some observers of the Texas Legislature have taken to calling the section of the gallery where the lobbyists sit “the owners’ box.”
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, June 05, 2008 • Permalink