Last Wednesday, the Democrat coalition that governs the Texas House overrode Republican opposition to expand welfare in the state, but what happened the next day was even more mind boggling.
At issue was HB 132, by State Rep. Ina Minjarez (D–San Antonio), which would significantly expand the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Conservatives led by State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R–Irving) said the bill would open the door for increased welfare fraud.
The bill passed by a narrow margin on second reading despite Rinaldi’s opposition. Aware that conservative members were opposed to welfare expansion, Minjarez and her Republican allies prepared a defense for the bill on third reading the next day. They sent up State Rep. Rick Miller (R–Sugar Land), the bill’s sole Republican joint author, with an amendment authorizing the Attorney General to pursue fraud cases resulting from the legislation.
But Miller’s amendment was a sham. Defrauding the State of Texas is, unsurprisingly, already illegal. Under Miller’s amendment, all the State could recover from a person if they were convicted of fraud was the amount they stole.
In short, Miller’s amendment was akin to a shopkeeper putting a sign on his door saying, “Warning: If Caught Shoplifting You Could Be Forced to Return the Item.”
Rinaldi didn’t fall for the ruse and questioned Minjarez to reveal how worthless the Miller amendment was. With no real defense, Minjarez robotically replied that the amendment had been added to “alleviate the concerns that members may have.”
“Okay, it doesn’t alleviate the concerns,” Rinaldi quipped as lawmakers prepared to vote on the amended bill.
But despite Rinaldi exposing the toothless Miller amendment, five of his Republican colleagues changed their vote from “Nay” to “Yea” and voted for the same bill that they had voted against just the day before. So who are these “Dunces for Democrats?”
State Reps. Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), Stan Lambert (Abilene), Lyle Larson (San Antonio), Hugh Shine (Temple), and Phil Stephenson (Wharton).
Citizens should know that each Republican lawmaker who voted for HB 132 is either dimwitted or liberal, and neither quality is one that deserves re-election.