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Government/Politics

Strong-Armed Texas State Lawmaker Leaves Gavels In Pieces

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AUSTIN — At 5 feet 5 inches tall, Kenneth Sheets is one of the smallest members of the Texas Legislature.

But he’s managed to break six solid, walnut gavels this session on days he’s been called upon to preside over the House.

None of the chamber’s other 149 member broke any gavels — even House Speaker Joe Straus, who wields them far more than Sheets.

Explains Sheets, “I’m just passionate.”

So much smashing means extra work for prison inmates in East Texas who make the gavels but aren’t paid for it. Texas is one of just three states not to offer compensation for prison work.

Gavels that break are returned to prisons and evaluated for flaws. Prisoners produced about 1,150 gavels this year, selling them to the House for $38 each. (AP)