87th LegislatureState HouseThe Back MicThe Back Mic: Lawmakers Take Sides on Abortion Abolition, Abbott Pushes Against ‘Defund the Police,’ Texas House Budgets Finalized

This week — here’s a look at what’s happening in Texas politics during the first week of the 87th legislative session.
January 15, 2021

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41 House Members Vote to Prioritize Abolition of Abortion 

An amendment to the House rules proposed by Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) on Thursday afternoon would have prohibited the ceremonial naming of any roads or bridges unless the body had first voted on a bill to abolish abortion.

The amendment failed 99-41. The 41 members who supported the measure were:

  • Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin)
  • Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd)
  • Keith Bell (R-Forney)
  • Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg)
  • DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne)
  • Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)
  • Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
  • Jeff Cason (R-Bedford)
  • David Cook (R-Mansfield)
  • Tom Craddick (R-Midland)
  •  John Cyrier (R-Lockhart)
  •  James Frank (R-Wichita Falls)
  • Gary Gates (R-Richmond)
  • Sam Harless (R-Spring)
  • Justin Holland (R-Rockwall)
  • Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth)
  • Stan Lambert (R-Abilene)
  • Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa)
  • Jeff Leach (R-Plano)
  • Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville)
  • Andrew Murr (R-Junction)
  • Candy Noble (R-Lucas)
  • Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound)
  • Jared Patterson (R-Frisco)
  • Dennis Paul (R-Houston)
  • Four Price (R-Amarillo)
  • Scott Sandford (R-McKinney)
  • Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
  • Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
  • Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City)
  • Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville)
  • Reggie Smith (R-Van Alstyne)
  • Lynn Stucky (R-Denton)
  • Valoree Swanson (R-Spring)
  • Ed Thompson (R-Pearland)
  • Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington)
  • Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands)
  • Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston)
  • Cody Vasut (R-Angleton)
  • James White (R-Hillister)
  • Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls)

The House journal later updated to show various members changed their votes after the fact to clarify how they intended to vote.

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Three members were shown to vote yes but say they intended to vote no:

  • DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne)
  • Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa)
  • Andrew Murr (R-Junction)

Seven members were shown to vote no but say they intended to vote yes:

  • Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco)
  • John Frullo (R-Lubbock)
  • Dan Huberty (R-Houston)
  • Kyle Kacal (R-College Station)
  • John Kuempel (R-Seguin)
  • Chris Paddie (R-Marshall)
  • Glenn Rogers (R-Graford)

Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) was absent due to contracting coronavirus and Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) said his vote failed to register and both intended to vote yes.

Governor Abbott Pushes to Reprimand Cities that “Defund Their Police”

At the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation, Governor Greg Abbott emphasized his intention to reprimand cities that defund their police departments.

“I am seeking a law that would allow the comptroller to hold in abeyance any remittance of the sales tax revenue generated … to not be given to [cities that defund their police],” told the crowd.

Abbott has sparred with City of Austin officials, with the latest episode concerning the city’s $150 million budget cut and redirection from its police department budget. The governor has also voiced his intention to push legislation that would annex the Austin Police Department under the state’s umbrella.

The broader issue will remain a priority of Abbott’s during this session.

Texas House Cements Office Budgets

The House passed its housekeeping resolution on Wednesday that governs internal policies such as record-keeping and access to the chamber. Within it also lies budgetary parameters.

A monthly allotment of $15,250 was approved for each office budget during session, which is reduced to $13,500 during the interim. In approving that amount, the body rejected an effort by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) to leave open the possibility of a budgetary increase.

Schaefer’s amendment would have postponed the decision on office budgets to April 16.

While supportive of an increase by pulling the funding from elsewhere in the budget — Schaefer specifically mentioned the Texas Department of Transportation’s $8 million in coronavirus-related hazard pay identified by the Freedom Caucus’ “Texas Wastebook” — the representative advocated pushing back the decision so that the Appropriations Committee could deliberate it more.

Schaefer’s amendment was opposed by House Administration Chair Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) who said he wants to preserve the surplus $2 million in the budget for potential special sessions later this year.

The amendment failed 103-43.

Update: The piece has been updated with vote changes after the House journal was published.


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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.