So far this session, one chamber of the Texas Legislature has moved in support of the governor while another has moved to oppose him.
In his State of the State address earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced four items as “emergency priorities” for lawmakers to tackle in earnest this session.
Those issues were reforming Child Protective Services while protecting parental rights, eliminating sanctuary cities, passing genuine ethics reform, and having Texas join the list of states calling for an Article V Convention to rein-in the federal government.
In keeping with his promise to move these priorities expediently through the chamber, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has worked diligently to shepherd them through. As a result, a mere 51 days into the session, every single item has passed.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) March 1, 2017
A major ethics package by State Sen. Van Taylor (R–Plano) and legislation by Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) to end sanctuary cities both passed in the beginning of February. Additionally, just this week the Texas Senate passed a Convention of States resolution by Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury) as well as much needed CPS reforms authored by Charles Schwertner (R–Georgetown).
So far the Democrat coalition that governs Texas House has refused to tackle the issues.
Despite some of these reforms sitting on House Speaker Joe Straus’ desk for almost a month, none of the bills passed by the Texas Senate have been referred to committee. Meanwhile, none of the companion legislation in the House has even been granted a hearing – save for CPS reform.
That issue stands alone as the only priority the House has passed this session—a demonstration that the state’s lower chamber can actually do something constructive… when it wants to.
But while the problems at CPS are so severe they simply have no choice but to address them, House leadership has been looking for opportunities to kill Abbott’s other priorities.
Last session, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) served as the hatchet-man for efforts to pass ethics reform and outlaw sanctuary cities. Both issues are expected to once again go to the State Affairs Committee where he serves as judge, jury, and executioner.
Meanwhile, Straus also moved to place Convention of States in jeopardy—cherry-picking members opposed to an Article V Convention and stacking the committee to which it will be referred.
Such actions betray the Democrat coalition’s outright contempt for both the governor and conservative reform. Despite beating their chests about “governing” and “getting things done,” the Texas House has is struggling and sputtering this session.