AUSTIN, TX - The Texas House of Representatives only has three days left to vote on House-proposed bills. They were set to take up some big issues Tuesday but lost valuable time because of political "bill killing" tactics.
Most members knew something was coming when Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), the second-longest serving member, started the day with a peculiar motion.
"I move to postpone the Local and Consent Calendar until 3p.m. today," Thompson said.
Her motion wasn't recognized and instead, lawmakers started to take up the Local and Consent Calendar, a process that normally moves at warp speed. But not today.
The process was often times interrupted by Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), asking questions about the bills.
The result: bill after bill was knocked off the calendar because under House rules, if a debate on a local and consent bill lasts for 10 minutes, the bill is removed and lawmakers can't vote on it.
This wasn't done by coincidence. Stickland took to Twitter just before the House gaveled in and wrote, "There are a lot of bad bills on today's local and consent calendar. Not for long...#txlege."
And that's not the only way Stickland drug out the day's calendar. He also did a little thing lawmakers like to call "chubbing".
"You'll see a lot of what we call chubbing," Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland) told us about what to expect this week. "There'll be people asking questions and doing things just to prevent us from getting a bill down the calendar at this point."
In other words, bills the Representatives have spent months working on die.
It took more than four hours to finish the Local and Consent Calendar, eating up valuable time representatives need to pass other bills.
One of the bills that knocked off the calendar was House Bill 2159 by Representative Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto). It aimed to end the practice of shaming school children who can't afford to purchase their lunches by throwing the meals away in front of them or embarrassing the students in front of their peers. Giddings was allowed to have a moment of personal privilege to address the action.
"Would you want that to happen to your child," Giddings said. "What message are we sending that child? A message that you don't matter."
"One-hundred and fifty of us have been chosen to lead in this Texas House," she added. "What are we going to do with that power and privilege?"
Representatives are still set to take votes on bills related to CPS, partnering with faith-based organizations to place children in foster care and dozens of other bills.
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