The Texas House of Representatives voted two conservative priority bills out of their respective committees Friday, sending them to the Calendars Committee. But will that be the end of the road?
With just days remaining in the 86th Legislature, bills currently in calendars have one of two destinations before them: the House floor or a casket.
After a bill is passed out of committee, the House Committee on Calendars is responsible for placing—or not placing—the bill on a calendar so that it may be ultimately voted on by the full House.
The Elections Committee approved Senate Bill 9 dealing with election integrity on Friday, and the State Affairs Committee reapproved Senate Bill 29, a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying, after the bill was sent back to committee early Friday morning to reportedly fix an error in the bill.
Senate bills must be voted out of the body by Tuesday.
Because calendars are required to be presented two days ahead of time, that means that the committee must place bills on a calendar by Sunday. Of course, that gives Democrat members the opportunity to “chub” the bill, or slow-roll debate on other bills ahead of it in order to avoid reaching the bill by midnight.
But given the track record of the Texas House and its committees this session, conservatives have good reason to be concerned.
Currently, the Calendars Committee is sitting on several important pro-taxpayer bills that passed the Senate, such as Senate Bill 1772 which would require appraisal districts to revalue property after it is damaged by a disaster.
That bill—a commonsense reform—was approved unanimously by the Senate over a month ago but has slowed to a crawl in the House.
Even the Local and Consent Calendars Committee, who set generally noncontroversial or wholly local bills on the Texas House’s “fast-track” calendar, has sat on good government bills.
For example, Senate Bill 1229 would require cities, counties, and school districts to place all election results on an easy-to-access location on their website. That bill passed the Senate on April 17 and has still not been placed on a calendar.
Similarly, Senate Bill 1230, which expands reporting requirements for inappropriate relationships between educators and students, passed the Senate without opposition on April 11 and has not been placed for a vote.
While the House still has time to set priority legislation on the calendar, they must act fast. Given their history this session, especially considering that good governance bills have already been held up for weeks, the ultimate success of these bills seems more and more unlikely with every passing second.
So, what will it be? The governor’s desk or the legislative grave?