Would-be Texas laws up against the clock to pass

Inside the Texas State Capitol (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)
Inside the Texas State Capitol (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a reason the NBA has a shot clock; it makes a player shoot the ball. They either make it, or miss it. The Texas House also has strict deadlines that force ideas to survive or to die, and this week is full of them.

State Rep. Celia Israel has a local bill she wants to pass. HB 2324 would help county officials register people to vote, but a handful of lawmakers, led by Rep. Johnathan Stickland, R-Bedford, want to delay as much as possible so lawmakers can’t vote on bills they consider bad for Texas.

“A number of us on the conservative spectrum decided to speak for 10 minutes or knock the bills off with five signatures,” said Rep. Stickland. “We’re going full steam ahead trying to stop all the bad bills. There’s a number of bad bills that were looking at the general calendar and frankly we would like to see fall off the edge of the cliff.”

For Rep. Israel, she must pay attention to the parliamentary rules and know when to act, and act quickly.

“Chair recognizes Representative Israel to explain house bill 2324,” said Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, running the House floor. “Elections,” said Rep. Israel quickly grabbing the mic, “Move passage”

“Question occurs on the House moving house bill 2324 to third reading. Any objections? Chair hears none.” said Bonnen as the next lawmakers steps up, “So ordered”

Rep. Israel’s bill survives another day. Most bills won’t be that lucky. The House has to pass all House bills by Thursday at midnight and lawmakers are working on their Plan B’s.

Monday night several high profile bills did not pass a House committee, which makes them much less likely to reach the governor’s desk. Among them: A bill to legalize daily fantasy sports, a bill expanding medical marijuana in the state and a bill requiring students to use school bathrooms based on their “biological sex.”

Ross Ramsey with the Texas Tribune says it’s all by design.

“The system here is designed not to pass bills but to kill them. And after watching it for a little while you have to agree with it. It’s designed to kill stuff” said Ramsey.

A bill still alive and coming up for debate this week would allow those in the child welfare system to provide services only to those whose values align with theirs. Supporters say they need it for faith based groups to be more involved. Opponents say it could lead to illegal discrimination.

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