The governor felt compelled to veto a proposed law declaring the Bowie Knife the “Official State Knife of Texas” after discovering a factual error in the commemoration language. The lack of effective oversight by lawmakers speaks to a common problem of the members of the Texas Legislature and even the authors of the bill. The politicians in Austin have once again been caught voting for legislation based on its headline rather than its substance.
Authored by Muenster Republican State Rep. Drew Springer, HCR 86 was a celebratory resolution for lawmakers to send some “feel-good” vibes back to their districts via tribute to Texas’ rich heritage. The well-intentioned bill would have made the Bowie Knife, made famous by Alamo hero Jim Bowie, an official state symbol.
Lawmakers were quick to round up support for the bill, garnering an affirmative vote from 177 members of the 181-member legislature. There was not a single vote cast in opposition before lawmakers sent the bill to Abbott’s desk. However, it was there that Abbott’s staff discovered a historical inaccuracy, specifically in one the events that led to the knife’s popularity.
“This is the kind of resolution that a Texas Governor would sign without thinking,” Abbott said in his official veto statement. “So, as a thinking Governor, I think it best not to sign a factually incorrect resolution and instead to allow the Legislature to consider this next session.”
Onlookers are left wondering how many details were similarly overlooked by lawmakers in substantive legislation, such as school finance reform and the state’s $130 billion annual budget.
Abbott’s statement goes on to say, “Fortunately, with a little thinking and study, it was learned that a statement contained in the resolution is factually incorrect: it identifies the location of Jim Bowie’s ‘Sandbar Fight’ as ‘near Natchez, Louisiana,’ when in fact the fight occurred near Natchez, Mississippi.”
Lawmakers, often quick to hastily pile onto bad bills, once again showed they can’t be bothered with the careful consideration of legislation before bringing it to the floor; and that includes the thousands of staff members in each lawmaker’s office tasked with reading bills before they ever reach their boss’ desk.
With Abbott’s veto deadline having expired Sunday, he has now signed his final veto of the 86th, and Texans can appreciate his catch in this bill.
Will your state legislators use Abbott’s veto of HCR 86 as a teaching moment, committing to thoroughly analyze the bills before passing them out?
At the very least, Gov. Abbott has helped put the Texans in each member’s district on notice, giving them another tool to help keep their lawmakers honest and accountable regarding their job performance in Austin.