Taxpayer Abortion Ban, School Finance Stayin’ Alive During ‘Hell Week’

Txlege UpdateThough Chick-fil-A’s doors were closed while the Texas Legislature was doing business on Sunday, a bill designed to protect it and other business which dare to support socially conservative or religious charities was placed on the calendar at the last minute.

SB 1978, the Save Chick-fil-A bill, was among several survivors of last night’s House Calendar kill-off. Yesterday was the final opportunity for the House to schedule bills to be heard before Tuesday’s Senate bill deadline, which had House members scrambling while your average Texan may have been in Sunday prayer meeting or watching the “Game of Thrones” finale (or perhaps both).

Senate-approved bills that have cleared a Texas House committee had until Sunday night be scheduled by the House Calendars committee for a floor vote. That means if the Calendars committee and/or the Calendars committee chairman did not want a particular Senate bill to pass then all they had to do was simply not approve it.

As for some noteworthy victims:

  • SB 9, the elections paper trail and accountability bill, was not scheduled for a floor vote. Previously, the bipartisan-supported paper-trail provision was stripped, and all that was left were provisions to require those assisting voters to sign up with the county, with criminal penalties for those who do not.
  • SB 1663, the historical monuments protection bill, which took the limelight on the Senate floor recently as Democrats rallied to allow the continued demolition of Confederate and other memorials.
  • SB 756, a workforce training bill that critics worried could open the door to Alinskyite ACORN-like organizations receiving taxpayer funds.

And for bills that are stayin’ alive:

  • SB 22, to ban local governments from contracting with abortion services providers (e.g. no more cheap rent on city-owned property for Planned Parenthood in big cities) is on its way to the Governor’s desk, having been approved Friday.
  • SB 1978, the aforementioned Save Chick-fil-A bill.
  • And let’s not forget HB1, SB2, and HB3, the budget and school finance bills, which are still in negotiation.
  • As an aside, and a reminder that the Senate has a Wednesday deadline to consider approved House bills, the “Common Core Lite” bill, HB 663, cleared the Senate education committee on Friday, but the language appears much-diluted from the original version.

From the hip: We find ourselves now in a “Game of Chairs,” not so much thrones. A key strategy of running out the clock was implemented yet again this biennium by key committee chairmen. But the power of committee chairmen is checked, and nothing is fully dead until sine die on May 27. Even with SB 9, we can expect its provisions — including the ill-fated paper trail — to live again via amendments to legislation still being considered on the floor or in conference. Next Lord’s Day is the deadline for conference committees between the chambers to make their decisions. The takeaway: A lot can still happen this week.



Txlege Trivia: Around 5 percent of the 7,000 some bills considered by the Legislature are now on their way to the Governor’s office according to House statistics. Gov. Greg Abbott has already signed 55 of them last we checked, and hundreds more may sit on his desk up until Father’s Day — the last day of the Governor’s veto window, in which he becomes with little argument the most powerful man in Texas. In an average session, the percentage of legislature-approved bills will rise to somewhere between 20 and 25 percent where most will be signed by the Governor. This upcoming, final week is often called “hell week” for a reason with so much still at stake.

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