Last night was the moment of reckoning in the House for any bill that had not already been approved on the floor per deadline rules. Indeed, the pending stroke of midnight led to a frenzy of floor activity to hold votes on bills before it was too late. That resulted in the death knell for many pieces of legislation.
Here are some notable casualties.
Dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, HB 3172 perished after a point of order (POO) called attention to the inconsistency of the bill analysis and text of the bill itself was sustained. This sustainment is notable if only for how rarely it occurs.
The bill author, Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), did not even get a word out before Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrolton) called her first point of order. That one failed, but her second one succeeded in killing the bill.
Krause’s bill was drafted in response to the City of San Antonio’s exclusion of Chick-fil-A from its airport due to the company’s donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and its well-known adherence to Christian tenets. The bill says, in part, “a governmental entity may not take any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on the person ’s membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a religious organization.”
It was opposed by, among others, the House LGBT Caucus which was applauded by the House Democratic Caucus for killing “a discriminatory bill that would have significantly stigmatized LGBTQ Texans across the state.” Rep. Johnson is the head of the House LGBT Caucus.
Jonathan Saenz, the president of Texas Values, a group staunchly supporting Krause’s bill, said in a statement after the point of order was sustained, “This common-sense religious freedom effort is far from over.”
Indeed, it is not over as its Senate-companion bill (SB 1978) is alive and could find its way back to the lower chamber before the session’s end.
Governor Abbott initiated a last minute push in favor of HB 4013, which institutes a 10 percent excise tax on vaping and e-cigarette products. The bill, authored by Rep. Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land), faced immediate pushback as Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) raised a point of order challenging the accuracy of the committee hearing’s notice. The point of order was sustained.
About HB 4013’s failure, Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) told the Dallas Morning News that he is disappointed, and that “This bill would protect kids and save public costs.”
Johnson is the author of the Senate-version of the bill.
A 2012 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded, “it will take sizable tax increases, on the order of 100 percent, to decrease adult smoking by as much as 5 percent.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory saying, “The recent surge in e-cigarette use among youth, which has been fueled by new types of e-cigarettes that have recently entered the market, is a cause for great concern.”
Authored by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), HB 1133 went down with a resounding vote of 44 Yeas to 97 Nays. The bill “relat[ed] to public school class size limits.”
The bill, Stickland proclaimed, addressed the current 22 student class size limit for grades kindergarten through fourth-grade. The most contentious part of the bill’s debate was over Stickland’s own amendment that would have given leeway on that restriction to schools that met certain “innovation plan” criteria. The language was written for Arlington Schools — located in Stickland’s district — that implemented their innovation plan last year.
Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, took issue with the amendment because “it could affect any district.” He went on to tout the 22-student class size limit as “a giant step forward” for Texas education. Turner cited the Public School Finance Committee’s analysis of class sizes, which stressed the purported value of reducing class size as opposed to increasing them.
Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), chair of the House Committee on Public Education, supported the Stickland bill. He said in floor comments, “[the bill] allows the school district to balance class sizes [according to their needs],” but only after applying for a waiver that lasts one year.
HB 1133 passed out of the Public Education Committee without any no votes.
The House can now consider any legislation that was previously passed by the Senate.
The last day of the session is May 27.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.