UPDATE: Senate Bill 29 has since been set again on the House Calendar for Monday, May 20th.
Despite having the support of over 90 percent of Texans, Republican Party of Texas priority legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying received a potentially fatal blow in the Texas House on Friday morning.
Senate Bill 29 by State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), which would bar the practice of governments from using taxpayer dollars to higher lobbyists who often work against taxpayers in the Texas Capitol, was passed by the state Senate last month. At the same time, legislation filed in the House by State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) languished in the Calendars Committee, never being scheduled for a vote.
Conservatives had renewed hope for the bill, however, when the Senate’s version of the bill was scheduled for a vote in the House on Friday.
But shortly after the body gaveled in on Friday morning, State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) made a motion to take the bill off the calendar and send it back to the State Affairs Committee, which he chairs, reportedly in order to fix errors that could have enabled opponents to kill the bill on procedural grounds.
With Tuesday’s deadline for Senate bills to be passed by the House, the chances of the bill being moved out of committee, being placed on a calendar by Sunday (the deadline for bills to be placed on the calendar), and receiving a vote just got drastically more narrow.
Even if the bill is rushed through the committee process, if it is placed on Monday or Tuesday’s calendar, Democrats and those in opposition will have the opportunity to “chub” the bill, or slow-roll debate on other bills ahead of it in order to avoid reaching the bill by midnight.
If the House is to have a chance of actually hearing the bill, members of the State Affairs and Calendars committees will have to act fast.