It is a tale as old as time at this point: Legislative calendars get posted and provide for what appears to be a mixed bag of bills that “made the cut.”
The reality, however, is much more nefarious.
At times, bills that are set on calendars—especially ones close to deadlines—provide for a carefully conducted symphony where Republican leadership works in conjunction with Democrats to kill conservative legislation.
Tuesday at midnight provided for such an occurrence. The House was scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. but did not actually register until almost 45 minutes later. They had a total of 129 bills on the posted legislative calendar, including bills considered for the first time yesterday that had passed on second reading and several postponed bills.
Those postponed bills included the sole bill seeking to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying and a bill seeking to provide free speech protections on social media platforms.
House Democrats came prepared to seemingly employ several parliamentary delaying tactics, or as Capitol insiders would call it, “chubbing” to delay consideration of bills remaining on the calendar as the day went on. They were largely uninterrupted by House Republican leadership.
Senate Bill 10, as passed by the Senate in April, was a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying by cities and counties. When it arrived in the House, it was changed in committee by State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall) to be a permissive bill that defined what kind of lobbying taxing entities could engage in. Additionally, the bill allowed for lawyers representing those entities to engage in lobbying without registration.
But while amendments were pre-filed to correct those issues with the new bill, the legislation was repeatedly pushed back by Paddie until September 18, 2021—both Speaker Dade Phelan and taxpayer-funded lobbying ban advocate State Rep. Mayes Middleton‘s (R–Wallisville) birthday. That date, of course, is long after the Legislature will adjourn.
While members were forced to take a vote on whether to postpone the bill, after State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) objected, not a single member called for a record vote, shrouding each member’s action in secrecy.
Senate Bill 12, a bill to rein in social media giants over their censorship, was repeatedly postponed and never brought back for a vote.
Senate Bill 29, the bill seeking fair sports for women and girls, never really stood a chance after being placed toward the end of Tuesday’s major state calendar. Indeed, it was never brought up.
As the clock struck midnight, Democrats cheered and waived transgender pride flags and Phelan adjourned the chamber in memory of George Floyd.