A longshot challenger to Dade Phelan during last month’s Speaker race is not shying away from critiquing the leadership of the Texas House of Representatives.
As Rep. Tony Tinderholt recently pointed out, the Texas House took what appeared to be a five-day weekend for Presidents Day — finally reconvening mid-afternoon on Tuesday. Although the Texas Legislature is still in a 60-day window in which new legislation may not be passed, emergency items may be acted on and committee business may be conducted. As Tinderholt noted before being ruled out of order:
Yesterday, I had a couple of questions for my colleague, Craig Goldman, as to why the Texas House is taking so much time off instead of getting to work for the people of Texas. He and the Speaker are sending a strong message to all Republican freshman that this session, you need… https://t.co/LmeuKFcfdK pic.twitter.com/oLq76VBw5J
— Rep. Tony Tinderholt (@reptinderholt) February 15, 2023
Due to the extended nature of the break, the vacay required a resolution. SCR 18 by Rep. Craig Goldman passed 146-2, with Republicans Tinderholt and Rep. Bryan Slaton opposed.
“When conservative bills die this session don’t let a single State Rep tell you ‘we ran out of time,’ Tinderholt responded, via Twitter the day after St. Valentine’s. “Every committee in the Texas House could be organizing this week, but instead many members are going home.”
Allies to the Speaker have pointed out bills are still being referred to committee and there is plenty of behind-the-scenes negotiations taking place, though so far only the Appropriations and Administration committees have formally met.
I really never saw my former colleague as a “showhorse”. You know that committees are beginning to meet & bills go through that process to get to the floor. House is working hard – in the Committee process. Come on Tony you are better than this. #txlege @DadePhelan @GoldmanCraig
— Ron Simmons (@RonforTexas) February 17, 2023
But a look across the rotunda to the other chamber paints another picture, according to Slaton.
The Texas Senate has referred 705 bills to committees.
The Texas House has referred 0.
Thank you @DanPatrick for getting to work and thank you @reptinderholt and @brianeharrison for voting against these extended adjournments. #txlege
— Bryan Slaton (@BryanforHD2) February 22, 2023
From the hip: This alleged tactic is nothing new from last session, or from the last decade or more.
We reported in mid-June 2021, as conservatives waited for Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session over the Sen. Bryan Hughes’s election integrity bill, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to the radio and blasted Phelan over the Democrat walkout on the last day of the Regular Legislative Session, which thus killed the bill. Patrick told WBAP-AM in Dallas that Phelan knew the Democrats were going to stage a walkout to break quorum at the 11th hour and not only did nothing to stop it, he intentionally let it happen.
Given, the Texas House has a higher traffic volume with 150 members as opposed to the state Senate’s 31. And the House has a Calendars committee to contend with — the LiteGuv pretty much is the Calendars committee over in the Senate.
That being said, “slow walking” legislation has become the tactic of the decade for killing bills. While common in legislative bodies, it became routine during the Joe Straus speakership and continued under Dennis Bonnen, and now is the weapon of choice under Phelan’s speakership, as many other fine qualities as he may have.
Print this article out and stick it on the fridge for the remainder of the 140-day legislative session. You’ll want to remember this in late May as key deadlines approach and your favorite bills reach their shelf lives.