AUSTIN - May 11 is a big day in the 85th Texas Legislature.
"Last day of HB, House Bills, being heard," said Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas).
Villalba is in his third term.
"We've been here before," he said. "This is not my first rodeo."
And to prepare for this "rodeo" Villalba restocked his popular candy jar, that will undoubtedly be empty by the end of the night. Other representatives had their own snacks lined up on their desks at they settled in for a long night and a race against time.
"After midnight, the deadline goes down and it's over," Villalba explained.
The day's calendar is packed with 295 House bills in addition to numerous Senate bills and a few resolutions.
"We're all hoping with our fingers crossed that our bill's gonna cross the finish line," said Villalba. "But as you can see from what's going on out right now, it's not likely that I'm going to get some of my bills today."
What's"going on" is chubbing. That's the practice of asking questions about bills, not for actual debate, but to waste time.
"It's actually a strategy to kill bills that maybe certain parties don't want to see come up," Villalba said.
The annoyed and blank expressions on the faces of dozens of representatives made it clear how they feel about the questions being asked.
Representative Paul Workman's bill to prohibit cities and counties from passing ordinances that remove questions from employment applications, a practice commonly referred to as banning the box, is the last bill on the calendar.
"Well we're disappointed that it's not going to make it," Workman said.
But the representative know there's always next session.
"We just keep our head up and keep going," Workman said. "'Cuz one defeat on that one, there might be a victory over here so you just can't let it get you down."
"It's par for the course," added Villalba. "It's part of the process. Our system is designed to kill bills not to get bills to the Governor's desk so we're disappointed but that's why I have my candy jar and maybe after midnight I'll have a cocktail to wash away the tears."
There's still some hope for local and consent bills. Representatives can still pass those bills and passed a motion to take up local and consent bills Friday that were knocked off the calendar earlier that week.
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