Democratic lawmakers in the Texas House stand poised to kill a number of Senate bills that have been allowed to languish in various phases of the legislative process following a controversial decision by House Republican leadership to adjourn until Monday at 1 p.m.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and his colleagues opted not to meet over the weekend ahead of crucial legislative deadlines on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday is the last day the House can consider second readings of Senate bills and Senate joint resolutions, and Wednesday is the last day for the body to consider local and consent Senate bills on second and third readings, as well as all third readings of Senate bills and joint resolutions on the supplemental calendar, according to this legislative session’s House and Senate rules.
Democratic members could ostensibly stall once the House reconvenes, proposing amendments and making points of order. With only a 35-hour window left, any bill that has yet to receive a second reading is at risk of being killed.
Such bills include SB 18, which, if enacted, would ban tenure for all new faculty at Texas institutions of higher learning.
SB 833 is also now in peril. Its purpose is to “regulate the use of environmental, social, or governance [ESG] models, scores, factors, or standards to define acts or practices that may be unfair discrimination in the business of insurance in this state.”
Companies adopting ESG standards have drawn substantial criticism in Texas, where the gas and oil industry has come under economic fire from environmental activist investors looking to accelerate a transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Another bill that Democratic lawmakers could kill is SB 1515, which would require all public schools to display in a conspicuous place a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom.
Some bills have already died in the House, failing to be referred out of committee by a previous deadline.
Of particular note is SB 8, which would have established education savings accounts that could be used to help families pay for private school when parents determine that their local public school system is not meeting their child’s educational needs. The bill died in the House after failing to advance before a Saturday deadline.
However, Gov. Greg Abbott has signaled he intends to call a special legislative session if no substantive school choice legislation makes it to his desk before the end of the regular session on May 29, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
It is currently unclear what other legislative items Abbott might insist on being re-addressed in the highly prospective special session.
The Dallas Express reached out to North Texas Reps. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian), Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), and Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) for comment, but did not receive a reply from any by press time.
A request for comment was also sent to Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi about the circumstances in which Republican House members have found themselves. A spokesperson replied, “No comment at this time.”