Both the House and Senate bills to prevent dismemberment abortions have been entirely stalled in the Texas House.
On Tuesday, Rep. Matt Schaefer brought this glaring issue to light through a series of parliamentary inquiries during the House’s daily floor session.
Sen. Perry is the Senate’s author of the dismemberment abortion legislation. Although that bill passed out of the Senate and was sent to the House on March 21nd, over one month ago, Speaker of the House Joe Straus has not even referred that bill to a committee.
Since there is just over one month left in the legislative session, Rep. Schaefer took an alternative route to bring light to HB 844, the House’s identical version of Rep. Perry’s dismemberment abortion ban. HB 844, authored by Rep. Stephanie Klick and co-authored by 58 others, was filed on January 5, 2017 and was referred to the House State Affairs Committee on February 21, 2017. However, the committee chair, Rep. Byron Cook, is responsible for scheduling the bill for a hearing in his committee and has not done so in the last two months.
Rep. Schaefer brought forward Texas House Rule 7, Section 45 “Motion to Require Committee to Report”: “ (b) After the first 76 calendar days of a regular
session, when any bill, resolution, or other paper has been in committee for 6 calendar days,
exclusive of the calendar day on which it was referred, it shall be in order for a member to move that the committee is required to report the same within 7 calendar days.The motion shall require a majority vote for passage.”
In a discussion with the Speaker, Rep. Schaefer established that we have passed the 76 day
mark, and that HB 844 has been in committee for more than 6 days. Being in compliance with
the above-quoted House Rule, Rep. Schaefer then made a motion to require the committee on State Affairs to report HB 844 within 7 calendar days.
House Speaker Joe Straus was not occupying the chair at the time of Rep. Schaefer’s motion and the discussion was being had with Rep. Craig Goldman. Goldman, at the instruction of assistant House Parliamentarian, Shalla Sluyter, informed Rep.Schaefer that he was not recognized for that motion.
Rep. Schaefer further inquired about whether Speaker Joe Straus would have permitted him to make the motion and was denied an answer to that question. Rep. Schaefer then pointed out that the rule says “. . .it shall be in order for a member to report the same within 7 calendar days.” When “shall” is used in the rules, it is a requirement that the motion be allowed.
Despite clarification that the rules require the Speaker
to recognize the member for such a motion, the Speaker, again at the prompting of the assistant parliamentarian, told Rep. Schaefer he was not recognized to make the motion.
As it stands, neither SB 415 nor HB 844 are moving in the Texas House.
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