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Texas House Passes New Rules Package for Legislative Session

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The new Texas House of Representatives rules package for the 87th legislative session passed Thursday afternoon with several notable changes, some of which were removed from the package by amendments during debate.

One of the most controversial proposed changes was an increase in the number of members needed to request a recorded vote from one to three. Representatives Jeff Leach (R-Plano) and Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) expressed a desire for changes to be made to the proposed rule change on Twitter. The proposed change was struck by an amendment by Rep. Todd Ames Hunter (R-Portland).

Another highly controversial change is the new Rule 4 Section 13C, which allows committees to restrict broadcasts “other than official house broadcasts” of proceedings. Young Conservatives of Texas, a group describing itself as “a non-partisan conservative youth organization,” issued a press release Wednesday stating that they believe the new rule is “a clear and egregious violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.” An amendment to strike the proposed change by Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford) failed by 33 to 109.

The most sweeping changes are related to changes in procedure related to the pandemic. One change is that members, house officers and employees, and all other persons attending a either a committee meeting or the house chambers are required to wear a face mask. Masks are allowed to be removed for few purposes, mainly when addressing either the committee or chamber. Another change requires only two members of a committee to be physically present to establish a quorum when taking testimony during public hearings.



Another controversial section of the proposed changes made in response to the pandemic is a limitation on the ability to amend bills placed on the consensus calendar, with Representative Schaefer stating “we cannot diminish the right of members to file amendments” on Twitter. This change was also struck by Hunter’s amendment.

Two amendments, both Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Rose City), would have required the chairs of several of the main house committees to be of the majority party of the house. Both amendments failed.

An amendment to prohibit wearing jeans on the house floor was proposed and withdrawn by Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwell). Several other members introduced failed amendments on topics such as redistricting, rules related to the pandemic, and recorded votes in committees.

In the end, the rules package passed 141 to 0. The full package, H.R. 4, along with a synopsis of all of the changes from the Office of the House Parliamentarians, is available on the Texas Legislature Online website.



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