87th LegislatureState HouseState SenateChild Gender Reassignment Ban, Other Notable Bills May Run Out of Time Tonight

The Texas House has until midnight tonight to approve their own proposals. The list of legislation awaiting a vote is over 300 bills long.
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Since lawmakers in the Texas House have until midnight on Thursday to approve legislation that originated in the lower chamber, a mad rush to pass as many as possible of the more than 300 bills on the calendar is expected to ensue.

Though hundreds of bills have been placed on the House calendar to go to the floor, not all of the bills on that list will see the light of day on Friday morning. Tuesday evening was the last day for the House to set its calendar with House bills, meaning whatever is left on the chamber’s lengthy agenda after tonight — aside from local and largely uncontested bills — will die.

A wide array of policies and changes to state code is buried in the mountain of legislation, which includes both trivial bills — such as designating Dr. Pepper the state “soft drink” or adding coding for video games to the list of essential knowledge for education — and legislation that would have a wider effect on Texans, such as a proposal to ensure people can have access to visit dying family members.

Some significant bills on that are still on the calendar, in the order that they are listed and will be brought to the floor, include:

  • HB 4509 from Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) for informed American patriotism in schools.
  • HB 3013 from Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg), a GOP priority bill related to displays at the Alamo.
  • HB 740 from Rep. Art Fierro (D-El Paso) to allow for voters who are voting by mail to send in a ballot with ranked choice of candidates in the case of a runoff election.
  • HB 2675 from Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) to allow for expedited License to Carry (LTC) applications for qualified persons who are at risk of facing violence.
  • HB 347 from Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) to create a state offense for lying on a firearm background check.
  • HB 929 from Rep. Carl Sherman (D-DeSoto) to update policies related to body cameras worn by police officers.
  • HB 573 from Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) to create new regulations and requirements for health care cost-sharing ministries.
  • HB 1379 from Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) to allow firearms to be carried in restaurants where alcohol accounts for less than 60 percent of sales, an increase from the current 51 percent limit.
  • HB 2055 from Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), an overhaul of the state’s child abuse registry.
  • HB 1399 from Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) to ban gender reassignment procedures on children.
  • HB 3998 from Krause to bar local officials from prohibiting access to dying family members.
  • HB 191 from Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.”
  • HB 160 from Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) to allow school-issued IDs to be an acceptable form of identification when voting.

Any House bills that do not make it to the House floor by the end of the night — which will likely include a good portion at the bottom of the list above — are effectively dead.

The Texan Tumbler

Though Governor Greg Abbott’s legislative priorities are all still alive, a few of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s priorities are in dire straits.

Some bills that received more attention early — such as a proposal to allow Texans to vote on secession, the slate of bills to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, or aims to legalize commercial casinos — have lost any momentum they might have had.

Other examples include bills to make the Commissioner of Education a statewide elected position and remove the Confederate statues around the state capitol.

HB 1399 was the only one of four proposed bans on gonadectomies and puberty blockers for children to make it out of committee. The rest languished in the House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), though the Senate versions may be resurrected by May 22. HB 68, the first proposed ban of this kind that was filed in this session, languished in the Public Health Committee alongside the similar HBs 2693, 4014, and their Senate companions.

There are ways around the looming deadline that could bring back some of the proposals.

It is always possible — though improbable — that the House could agree to suspend their self-imposed deadlines.

A more probable way that legislation could make a return is if companion legislation is filed in and approved by the Senate.

For instance, a House bill from Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) to prohibit all taxpayer-funded lobbying never received approval from the committee it was in, but another, more narrow prohibition on the practice has already been approved by the Senate.

Senate bills enjoy more time than House bills to pass. Committees in the House have until May 22 to act on Senate bills, and the Senate has no deadline for its own committees to get bills to the floor.

Furthermore, May 23 is the last day for the House to distribute the daily calendar for Senate bills, while that same deadline for House bills already came and went on Tuesday evening.

While less substantial than regular bills, local and consent bills in the House have more generous deadlines. Bills land onto the local and consent calendar when committee chairs expect them to see little to no opposition. The last calendar with consent House bills was printed yesterday morning, and the last calendar with local House bills will be printed on May 19.

May 30 will be the final day for each chamber to agree on bills hashed out in conference committee. On the following day — the last day of the 87th session, referred to as “sine die” — both chambers will be limited to making corrections only.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.