In the wake of the House’s highly criticized impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, one lawmaker has filed a proposition to reform the impeachment process.
State Rep. Travis Clardy (R–Nacogdoches) has filed House Joint Resolution 8, which seeks to amend the state constitution to “establish a clear and concise framework recognizing the importance of due process and uphold the fundamental rights of any officer facing impeachment consistent with the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Under the new rules, the House of Representatives would be required to conduct comprehensive investigations into all impeachment articles. This includes having all witnesses and testimony under oath and subject to cross examination.
House witnesses were, notably, not put under oath when they talked with investigators earlier this year.
The resolution would also grant the right to participation in the process by the officer who is being impeached. In contrast, Paxton and his legal counsel were barred from participating in the House investigation against him.
House members were given 48 hours notice before their vote to impeach Paxton in May. Clardy’s resolution would give members a minimum of 14 days to review all records prior to voting.
Lastly, the resolution would ensure that impeached officers receive pay while they are suspended.
“We have a duty to protect the rights of every individual, even during the most difficult circumstances. This legislation reinforces our commitment to fairness, due process, and upholding the principles upon which our great state was founded,” said Clardy.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also called for reforms to the impeachment process.
“In the next regular session, we must amend the Texas Constitution on the issue of impeachment, because the way the constitution is currently written allowed this flawed process to happen this year,” Patrick said shortly after the Senate acquitted Paxton on all impeachment charges.
To be considered in a special session, however, Gov. Greg Abbott would need to add the issue to the agenda. As of publishing, Abbott did not respond to a request for comment.