The Back MicThe Back Mic: Bill Filed to Remove Absent Lawmakers, Two Texas Democrats Arrested in D.C., Second Capitol Staffer Challenges Austin-Area Democrat

This week — a lawmaker files a bill to vacate seats of absent legislators, two Texas legislators are arrested in Washington, D.C., and another GOP challenger jumps into the race against a suburban Democrat.
August 6, 2021

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Bill Filed That Would Vacate Legislative Seats After 14 Days of Absence

After weeks of the legislative standstill, Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) filed a bill that would create a pathway to vacating seats held by truant members.

Under the proposed legislation, if a legislator is absent and unexcused for 14 consecutive days, their seat would be considered vacated and a special election to fill it could be called by the governor.

“If you repeatedly don’t show up for work, you are fired from your job, our offices should be no different,” Middleton said in a release. “Excessive, unexcused absences are certainly a violation of each member’s oath of office and a refusal to do the job the member is elected to do.”

Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) has filed similar legislation but with a shorter time frame of seven days. “The Democrats need to be held accountable for quitting on their constituents. Democrats just wasted a special session and the $1 million it costs the taxpayers,” he said.

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Texas Democrats have been on the lam in Washington, D.C. for over three weeks now in an effort to kill, most notably, GOP-backed election reform.

Governor Greg Abbott has suggested vacating truant members’ seats but has not expounded further. He included legislative quorum requirements on his August special session agenda, called after Democrats ran out the clock on the first one.

Texas Lawmakers Arrested in D.C. During Protest

A week after Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) was arrested for blocking a U.S. Senate office building’s entryway, two other Texas officials were arrested during a similar demonstration.

Congressman Al Green (D-TX-09) and state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) were arrested outside the Supreme Court building for blocking a roadway. The pair, along with others, were protesting “voter suppression” and have pushed for the U.S. Senate to pass the For the People Act — a federal election reform bill passed by the U.S. House in March.

Reynolds has been in D.C. since the Texas Democrats’ quorum break last month.

His Twitter account stated that the representative was arrested “while peacefully protesting against voter suppression, protecting access to the ballot and preserving our precious right to vote.”

A video of the arrest shows the pair standing in a crosswalk while singing along to “We Shall Overcome” — an anthem of the civil rights movement.

Another Capitol Staffer Jumps into GOP House Primary

A week after one Texas capitol staffer announced her challenge to Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock), another former GOP staffer has announced his candidacy for the same district.

Nelson Jarrin, an attorney and former staffer for Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), announced his bid to challenge Talarico as well.

“The people of [House District 52] deserve better than [James Talarico]…they deserve a state representative who will show up every day ready to fight for their values, their livelihoods, and their families in the Texas House,” Jarrin said on Twitter.

“From defunding the police, to supporting public homeless encampments, to voting against a ban on a state income tax…[James Talarico] is completely out-of-touch with the values of [House District 52].”

Shortly after, Schwertner tweeted his support, saying, “I’m proud to endorse [Nelson Jarrin]. He’s a conservative fighter the people of #HD52 can trust to keep taxes low, protect life, improve our schools [and] keep our community safe.”

“I’m honored to call Nelson a friend and I plan to do everything I can to make sure he’s successful.”

There are now three GOP candidates vying for the opportunity to challenge Talarico in 2022.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and 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 quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.