The week started off with a whirlwind of activity as Representative Dan Huberty was able to file, bring to the floor and refer to committee, all within 24 hours, HB21 which would add over 1.6 billion in extra funding to the state’s education budget. As Rep. Jonathan Stickland became aware of what was happening, he can be heard shouting “parliamentary inquiry” on the video archives of the floor session in the background as the speaker is adjourning for the day.
As Rep Stickland is recognized, it is obvious he is out of breath from hurriedly making his way back to the floor to try to get a reconsideration of the vote on suspending the five-day posting rule on this bill. It is reported that when he went to the dias there was an exchange of words after which,Rep. Dennis Bonnen proceeded to get in Stickland’s face, even laying his hands on him. This action can be seen on the video archived footage starting at the 1:01 mark.
On Tuesday, SB6, known as the “Bathroom Bill’ was heard in committee with over 400
persons registering to present testimony. The most passionate part of the testimony (starting at 5:01:01) came when Senators Kelly Hancock and Paul Bettencourt questioned the Texas Association of Business representative about their opposition to the bill which was based on a student study. There was no mention by TAB that the research they wre relying on to make statements about the legislation was in reality from students of St. Edward’s University. The newly formed Texas Freedom Caucus of the House brought this to light when they received a letter from St. Edward’s University saying as much. To understand the context of the questioning by the senators, view Senator Bettencourt’s exchange with Senator Lois Kolkhorst the bill’s author. (starting at the 1:02:35 mark). SB6 passed out of committee in the early morning hours and will be heard on the Senate floor on Monday, March 13th.
Another interesting item that came out in testimony was a program called Welcoming Schools. Lone Star Voice did some research on this program and you can read more here.
On Wednesday, Senator Bob Hall, laid out HB87 and HB88 that deal with ending the use of red light cameras. There has been some questions about changes that are pending on the bills and that are said to be coming at a later date. Stay tuned for updates from Lone Star Voice on those.
Also on Wednesday, Rep. Byron Cook laid out HB35 which deals with the proper procedures to follow when dealing with the remains of babies that have been aborted. Numerous citizens testified voicing their opposition to the bill calling for abortion to be abolished and asking the committee to amend the bill to do so. The committee members were frustrated with those who were testifying and repeatedly asked them to keep their testimony to information dealing with HB35 specifically. Many of those testifying seemed to be part of a group known as abortion abolitionists.
Thursday, Representative Charlie Geren laid out a list of ethics bills that are identical to the ones that were passed out of the Senate chamber by Senator Van Taylor. There was almost no opposition to the bills. Tony McDonald, representing Empower Texans did bring up some questions about HB1380. It was his concern that if this bill were to pass in its current form, there could be an ongoing criminal investigation at the same time the Texas Ethics Commission was conducting their own investigation leading to those charged having to plead the fifth in order to protect themselves. It seemed that the committee was receptive to his testimony. The bills were left pending.
Next week is already shaping up to be quite interesting. SB6 will be going to the Senate floor. Gun bills will be heard in committee. Elimination of straight party voting is on the Elections committee agenda. The Public Education Committee will take further testimony on Huberty’s school funding bill. HB1600 which calls for public mental health screenings by providers will be heard in the House public health on Tuesday.
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