Behind closed doors, some lawmakers are working to rush through legislation to change how the Republican Party of Texas operates.

When filed, House Bill 1987 was an attempt to require that if an individual is an officer of a political party and they ran for public office they would automatically resign their position.

Some have speculated the bill was filed as a move against current Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, who has been rumored to be considering a run for statewide office in 2022.

The bill passed the House on May 11. It passed the Senate on May 25 after being amended. On May 28 the House refused to concur with amendments and appointed a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions.

Near midnight on Saturday, the Conference Committee Report for the bill was made public and it came with some very notable changes.

Chief among them was a new requirement that the positions of Chairman and Committeeman and Committeewoman of each Senate District as a part of the State Republican Executive Committee be elected in a primary election as opposed to in a convention as they are now.

These changes don’t apply to Democrats. In fact, the bill only applies to the Republican Party of Texas.

These new provisions caught ire in the conservative activist sphere.

Former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi said, “Executive committee provision applies only to the GOP, not the Democrat Party, showing this bill has nothing to do with the method of election and everything to do with a power-mad governor trying to crush grassroots dissent ahead of a primary election.”

Former State Sen. Konni Burton said, “Ummmm. This is very, very wrong. What the hell are y’all thinking?”

Conservative political consultant Luke Macias called it “a declaration of war on the grassroots from the GOP elected elite,” adding, “This is now a massive lobbyist/donor empowering corrupt bill.”

The Republican Party of Texas released this statement in response:

The Conference Committee Report of HB 1987, if passed, would apply only to the Republican Party for decades.  Whether you support the idea of Party leadership being elected on the primary ballot, by Executive Committee, by convention, or other means, to have a law that would apply state-mandated requirements over Party leadership to one political party only, is unconscionable. I will not ascribe intent to any of the State Representatives or State Senators who have worked on this bill regarding this matter.  It could have been a simple oversight, but they need to know this is not acceptable.

Who is Responsible?

Notably, all of the conferees or members appointed to the conference committee signed in support of these revisions.

The House conferees are State Reps. Cody Vasut (R–Angleton), Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), Charlie Geren (R–Ft. Worth), Craig Goldman (R–Ft. Worth), and Chris Paddie (R–Marshall).

The Senate conferees are State Sens. Larry Taylor (R–Friendswood), Carol Alvarado (D–Houston), Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels), Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola), and Eddie Lucio (D–San Benito).

What is Next?

The House of Representatives will have to adopt the conference committee report when they convene today in order for the bill to pass and be sent to the governor for his consideration as midnight marks the deadline for both the House and Senate to adopt Conference Committee Reports or concur with amendments to bills already passed.

Due to layout rules, the bill will not be eligible to be considered until 11:10 p.m., less than an hour before the midnight deadline.

Monday, May 31, is the last day of the 87th Legislative Session.

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.