Do you hear that?
That’s the subtle sound of bills dying. If you tune into the legislative session over the next few days, you are likely to see a series of orchestrated conversations that seemingly are endless in the hopes of running out the clock.
Day 122 of the 140-day legislative session marks one of the first of several important, self-imposed legislative deadlines in the legislative process in the Texas House of Representatives. That day falls on Thursday, May 13, this cycle and ultimately means that the House can no longer take up House bills or House joint resolutions that are not already on a daily legislative calendar posted by that date.
The reality, however, using legislative history as a guide, is that any legislative calendars posted in the few days leading up to that deadline end up being generally useless, as multiple delay tactics are used by different factions within the House to ensure that real time doesn’t provide enough time for consideration of those bills in the first place.
What Bills Will Likely Fall Victim to the Clock This Session?
Even though today is Tuesday, the House is still considering bills originally scheduled for Monday’s legislative calendar. As the clock ticks on and the House adjourns, the bills that were never taken up get generally front-loaded onto the next day’s legislative calendar, and the list just continues growing leading up to the aforementioned deadline on Thursday.
That means that bills like House Bill 1399 by State Rep. Matt Krause (R–Haslet), Republican Party of Texas priority legislation to prohibit physicians from conducting gender transition surgeries or administering puberty blockers to minors, will likely not get considered, as it is on Wednesday’s posted calendar.
It means that House Bill 2546 by State Rep. Jacey Jetton (R–Sugar Land) will likely not be considered. This bill would require further enforcement by the Texas Secretary of State’s office of voter roll maintenance. It also is a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, as it relates to election integrity.
It means that they likely will not consider House Concurrent Resolution 1 by State Rep. Phil Stephenson (R–Wharton), which would express support for prayer, the use of the word “God” at public gatherings, and the display of the Ten Commandments in public school and government buildings. This was a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, as it relates to religious freedom.
It means that there will likely be no statewide ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying, even though polling suggests that nine out of every 10 Texans support such a ban, and in March of 2020, almost 95 percent of Republican primary voters voted in favor of a ballot proposition supporting such a ban. This too was a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas. A bill focused on a ban for local governments, however, passed the Texas Senate in mid-April but has been sitting in the House State Affairs Committee since then. Though unlikely, it is still possible this bill makes it to the House floor before another self-imposed deadline prohibiting the consideration of Senate bills on the calendar on Thursday, May 25.
It means that there will be no abolition of abortion, but merely just the further regulation of it. In fact, a bill that would prohibit abortions once the U.S. Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade is overturned has already passed the House. Before being passed, an amendment by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) attempting to hasten the timeline for the prohibition to be merely contingent on the passage of the bill and not on the case being overturned was ruled out of order by the Republican speaker of the House.
It also means that any calendar produced for consideration on Thursday, May 13, is nothing more than a collection of bills that were dead merely for being set on the calendar.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it begs the question that many activists are asking: How can a Republican-controlled Legislature hold the majority in both the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives and not usher priorities of their own political party through the legislative process?