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House Passes Boat Whistle Zombie Bill

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The Texas House stalled, then killed, then resurrected, then passed HB 550, by Rep. Ryan Guillen. Dubbed the “dinghy bill,” it requires Texans to carry a whistle with them while kayaking, paddle-boating, canoeing, etc.

Guillen argued the bill was necessary to come into compliance with existing federal law, and to collect money from the federal government which is disbursed in exchange for state compliance.

On April 24th, the bill was laid out during consideration of bills on the “Local and Consent” calendar. Bills on this list are supposedly non-controversial and/or local in impact. However, conservatives have objected to many of the bills which have found their way onto this calendar when they have included regulatory mandates, and have used procedural moves to force them back into committee.

Thus they did on the 24th to HB 550.



On April 26th, it was considered in the Calendars Committee and placed on the “General Calendar.” This is the list of bills that may or may not be controversial, but which are subject to debate.

When it got back to the floor on May 3rd, Rep. Jonathan Stickland railed against it, saying the state of Texas should be rejecting federal regulations, not conforming to them.

“I’m sick and tired of being held hostage by an oppressive federal government who puts money in front of our face, and says, ‘if you’ll just strip a little bit more liberty, a little bit more freedom from Texas residents, then you can have this money back.’ I say no!”

The vote was 89-52 to pass HB 550 on to 3rd Reading.

The bill was laid out on 3rd Reading the next day, with an orchestra of whistles blowing throughout the chamber. Stickland rose again in opposition to the bill and called this final vote a chance for “redemption” for those members who had voted for the bill the bill the day before.

To shouts, whistles, and Stickland’s celebratory fist pumping, the red lights finally outnumbered the green. The bill failed to pass by a vote of 67-79. 

Rep. Tony Dale tweeted out a picture of the bill and his whistle sitting in the trashcan and said it was, “in the trashcan of history. #txlege #dead”

But today, Rep. Drew Darby brought the bill back while Guillen, the author, wasn’t even in the chamber.

He said the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife wanted the bill to pass so they could collect $3.2 million from the federal government to come into compliance.

In a tense exchange, Stickland praised his Republican colleagues for rejecting federal money to comply with Obamacare, and urged them to do the same here.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi spoke in opposition to the bill, calling it, “silly” and complaining that the House was spending time on this bill while letting pro-life legislation die in committee.

The arguments for and against were basically the same as they were yesterday, but today, the bill passed 126-21, a wildly different result. Even Dale, who had mocked its death, voted for it today.

It begs the question, “What changed?” Who is pulling the strings in the House? Why did so many members change their votes? What are they afraid of? Or why did they all change their minds?

We may never know.

See the record votes:

Wednesday (HB 550 PASSED to 3rd Reading)

Yeas — Allen; Alonzo; Alvarado; Anchia; Anderson, C.; Are´valo; Bailes; Bernal; Blanco; Burkett; Coleman; Collier; Cook; Cortez; Cosper; Craddick; Darby; Davis, S.; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dukes; Dutton; Elkins; Faircloth; Fallon; Farrar; Flynn; Frullo; Geren; Gervin-Hawkins; Giddings; Gonza´lez; Gooden; Guerra; Guillen; Gutierrez; Hernandez; Herrero; Hinojosa; Holland; Howard; Huberty; Israel; Johnson, E.; Johnson, J.; Kacal; King, K.; King, T.; Klick; Kuempel; Larson; Lucio; Martinez; Minjarez; Moody; Morrison; Mun˜oz; Murphy; Neave; Neva´rez; Oliveira; Ortega; Paddie; Parker; Perez; Phelan; Phillips; Pickett; Price; Raney; Raymond; Reynolds; Roberts; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Romero; Rose; Sheffield; Smithee; Thierry; Turner; Uresti; VanDeaver; Villalba; Vo; Walle; Wray; Wu; Zerwas.

Nays — Anderson, R.; Ashby; Bell; Biedermann; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burns; Burrows; Button; Cain; Canales; Clardy; Cyrier; Dale; Dean; Frank; Hefner; Isaac; Keough; King, P.; Koop; Krause; Lambert; Landgraf; Lang; Lozano; Metcalf; Meyer; Miller; Murr; Oliverson; Paul; Rinaldi; Sanford; Schaefer; Schofield; Schubert; Shaheen; Shine; Simmons; Springer; Stephenson; Stickland; Stucky; Swanson; Thompson, E.; Tinderholt; White; Wilson; Workman; Zedler.

Present, not voting — Mr. Speaker; Goldman(C).

Absent, Excused — Laubenberg.

Absent, Excused, Committee Meeting — Capriglione; Gonzales; Hunter; Longoria.

Absent — Leach; Thompson, S.



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