As February prepares to give way to March, the Texas House is once again slated to take a five-day weekend as the clock ticks on its 140-day legislative session.
In order to adjourn for more than three days during the session, the House and Senate are constitutionally required to pass a resolution granting each other permission to do so. These resolutions are often passed with little or no discussion or opposition.
That precedent was disrupted last week, however, when State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) attempted to question the prudence of leaving for such a length of time while priority legislation had not been passed.
Tinderholt was shut down and told to return to his seat by Speaker Dade Phelan. The House then voted to approve the resolution, with only Tinderholt and State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) voting against it.
Once again, a similar resolution was brought before the House this week, after being passed unanimously in the Senate, allowing them to adjourn on Wednesday and come back next Tuesday, February 28. Before the resolution was presented before the body for a vote, however, Speaker Phelan noted that—while he didn’t believe the rules required it—he would allow limited debate on the motion if the members desired.
That did not happen, however, and the resolution was quickly voted on and passed. This time, Tinderholt and Slaton were joined by State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian) in opposing it.
Today marks the 43rd day of the 140-day session. While hundreds of bills have been referred to committees in the Senate, none have been referred in the House.
Tinderholt says he is still concerned about the pace of the session so far.
“Today, I respectfully voted “no” on extended leaves of the Texas House, once again. We have many bills that will hopefully get referred this week—an action that can get taken immediately on the governor’s emergency items,” said Tinderholt. “But if we go home for an extended period of time, yet again, we will lose vital days that will have extremely negative consequences on conservative legislation at the end of the session. It’s time to get to work!”
While the Texas Constitution prevents the Legislature from passing most bills during the first 60 days, it does allow them to pass legislation deemed a priority by Gov. Greg Abbott. Those priorities were presented last week during his State of the State address and include issues like school choice, property tax relief, and increasing border security.
The House is slated to convene on Wednesday as well. Though the resolution granting them permission to adjourn for a five-day weekend was passed today, they are not obligated to take the break if members vote against the adjournment tomorrow.