Following an interview where one lawmaker proclaimed school choice was “dead” in the Texas Legislature, conservatives are seeking to formally censure him.
In an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith Tuesday, Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) said that school choice reforms were dead this session and that nothing could be done to change his mind.
Given that House rules provide almost dictatorial discretion for committee chairs on scheduling hearings and votes on legislation, Huberty’s remarks are likely a death sentence for the issue this session.
But school choice isn’t just any issue, it’s one of the eight legislative priorities of the Republican Party of Texas. At the state GOP convention in 2016, delegates overwhelmingly approved a plank in the party platform in support of the issue:
“We believe that all children should have access to quality education. We support the right to choose public, private, charter, or home education. We support the distribution of educational funds in a manner that they follow the student to any school, whether public, private, charter, or home school through means of tax exemptions and/or credits;”
Support for school choice is a widely held, consensus position for all of the GOP’s top elected leaders, including President Donald Trump who has labeled the issue “the new civil rights issue of our time” and announced plans for his administration to radically expand school choice.
School choice is also publicly supported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R–TX), Gov. Greg Abbott, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, all of whom have made calls for the Texas Legislature to expand parental choice in education this session.
This morning, Kingwood Tea Party President Robin Lennon asked the State Republican Executive Committee to formally reprimand Huberty for his actions to kill school choice.
“We believe it is Rep. Dan Huberty’s duty to ensure this important issue for Texas children makes it out of committee and on to the floor for vigorous debate and a vote. This is what his own constituents, as well as Republicans across the entire State of Texas seem to want,” wrote Lennon in a letter. “I do not take this action lightly, but it is not right for a single Representative to make this important decision for the entire State of Texas and our children.”
“The resolution asks the SREC to censure Rep. Huberty for single-handedly denying School Choice without a hearing, and urging him to schedule hearings for the bills before passing them to the House Floor for consideration,” Lennon added.
Added into the Texas GOP’s rules at the 2016 convention, a motion to censure has never before been attempted. Lennon’s resolution is expected to be reviewed by the SREC which will meet Friday and Saturday.
Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler again refused requests for comment on the resolution or Huberty’s statement.
Lennon’s resolution may be viewed in full here.