The Texas Senate passed several key bills this week while the House has yet to hold a single committee hearing.
In response to the special session call by Gov. Greg Abbott, the Senate passed legislation on border security, school choice, and vaccine mandates.
SB 7, authored by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston), would offer workers protection from being required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by a private corporation or employer. After being referred to committee and receiving public input, the Senate voted to pass it on October 12.
After the bill’s passage, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, “Over the past few years, too many Texans have had to decide between their jobs and their health. The passage of SB 7 will return medical freedom to Texans and ensure that they will not lose their livelihood over their personal health decisions. The Texas Senate will pass this bill over and over again until it passes the Texas House.”
During the regular session earlier this year, the Senate passed similar legislation, but the House allowed it to die by not moving it out of the Calendars Committee until the very last moment.
Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC) applauded the Senate for moving quickly to pass the bill, saying, “We are encouraged that in just the first four days of this special session, Senators diligently filed bills according to the Governor’s call, heard these bills in Committee, and voted them through the chamber.”
“We are equally discouraged by the House’s seeming refusal to organize and focus on the work they have been tasked to do by the Governor,” the group continued. “In the same four days, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan has only allowed Representatives to be on the House floor for less than an hour, and none of that time was dedicated to deliberating legislation.”
“House leadership has not referred any vaccine choice bills to committees, and no committee has set a hearing to discuss the numerous bills that have been filed,” TFVC added. “While the House continues to use political maneuvers similar to those that killed the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act in the regular session earlier this year, the livelihood of all Texans hangs in the balance.”
The Senate also advanced legislation on border security and school choice on the same day.
Patrick subsequently blasted the House in a press release received by The Dallas Express, saying, “Yet again, the Texas Senate’s superb work ethic was on display for all to see. During yesterday’s marathon floor session lasting 15 hours, the Senate passed 5 of Gov. Abbott’s 6 emergency items.”
“To be clear, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) already passed school choice and teacher pay raises during the regular session. This is the 6th time that Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) has passed the provisions of our border security bill,” he noted. “For the 2nd time, Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) passed his human smuggling bill. And Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) passed legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates months ago during the regular session.”
“Meanwhile, the Texas House, under Speaker Phelan’s leadership, never came to an agreement on any of these bills during the regular session, and they all died,” he continued. “Now, one week into the special session, the House has not even scheduled a single hearing, let alone passed a single bill.”
“The House needs to get to work because Texans are watching,” he concluded.
As reported by The Dallas Express, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has been receiving criticism all year for not organizing his chamber and legislating in a timely fashion.
Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) recently told The Dallas Express, “Texans deserve immediate action, yet, while the Senate has been hard at work passing strong legislation, the Texas House adjourned, and, despite bold bills already written and filed, has not even referred a single one to committee.”
Instead of advancing legislation, Speaker Phelan banned Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), a political rival, from openly making parliamentary inquiries.
It is unclear whether the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton has been factoring into tensions between the state’s legislative chambers. Following the attorney general’s acquittal, Phelan accused Patrick and senators of corruption.
“Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who led us to believe he would preside over this trial in a fair and just manner, took a whopping $3 million donation from a Political Action Committee pushing for Paxton’s exoneration before the trial even began. … The fix was in from the start,” Phelan wrote in an op-ed published by the Beaumont Enterprise.