Eighty days into the state Legislature’s 140-day session, observers have noted a growing divide between the Texas House and Senate.
So far, the Senate has passed priority legislation banning gender mutilation procedures for minors, restoring the felony penalty for illegal voting, and offering property tax relief. The Texas House, meanwhile, has not passed a single priority of Gov. Greg Abbott or the Republican Party of Texas, instead passing bills to regulate the sale of honey in Texas and tamp down on the death penalty.
Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi, himself a former House member, says the difference comes down to leadership.
“What we saw is how much leadership matters. And the Senate’s under the leadership of Dan Patrick, since he took over, has been a body that has not let Democrats run the show,” Rinaldi explained on a recent episode of the Salcedo Storm Posdcast. ”They’ve set the agenda, and they’ve worked together with conservatives, the grassroots, and now the party in helping push those priorities over the finish line. I look at it as a team effort. And that’s truly all you can ask for.”
Rinaldi then contrasted that dynamic with Speaker Dade Phelan and the Texas House, saying the other chamber has a “completely difference culture.”
“The House has a completely different culture, as you could see. And it’s a very adversarial relationship with the party and the grassroots. It’s like you get the sense that they don’t like their own voters.”
“There’s this animosity towards Republican voters that’s almost palpable in the House,” he added.
While the party has been focused on its eight legislative priorities, approved by delegates to the Texas GOP Convention last summer, those aren’t the only bills Rinaldi says he wants to see passed.
Ending taxpayer-funded lobbying, for example, was a priority of the party in 2021.
“It wasn’t on the priorities this year, just because, to be honest, the whole world’s going to hell. And there are a lot more priorities right now,” said Rinaldi. “But it’s something that we’re focused on as the Republican Party of Texas, because it makes sense. You shouldn’t be paying tax dollars so that lobbyists can then lobby for you to pay more taxes to pay more lobbyists.”
Rinaldi also reaffirmed his support for legislation to remove rogue prosecutors, which is one of Phelan’s priorities.
“I think was his 13th priority to he announced. So, I was like, ‘Well, you know, the old saying. One out of 13 ain’t bad,’” joked Rinaldi.
Jill Glover, the legislative priorities chair for the party, also praised recent House committee hearings on bills to tamp down on pornographic material in school libraries, as well as ending gender mutilation in children, but stressed the importance of citizens being engaged in the process.
“I think that we the people have to be down there, and we have to remind them, and we have to engage with them. And we have to call them and email them and remind them of these things,” said Glover.