Deadline day in Texas House leaves legislation on cutting room floor

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Deadline day in the Texas House means bills originating in the chamber that don’t get initial votes of approval will not become law.

Hundreds of piece of legislation were on the calendar for lawmakers to debate on Thursday, but a midnight deadline prevents consideration of any House bill on the supplemental calendar that does not get passed to third reading.

The day started with a prayer, as it usually does.

“Father, we know we face a long day today,” State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, said, delivering the invocation on the House floor Thursday morning.

“Father, my prayer is that when that clock strikes midnight tonight, that we would have given you reason through our actions today to say well done my child, well done,” VanDeaver said.

Some lawmakers looked to piggyback their proposals on related bills.

“We’re right now studying every bill, trying to find germane — so that if we put a bill on as an amendment it doesn’t get you know, doesn’t get point of order and we lose,” State Rep. Jay Dean, R-Longview, said.

Dean blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and February winter storm for knocking out critical time to draft legislation.

“60 days of this session were lost because of those two things,” he asserted. “So that’s why you’ve seen a lot of scrambling, that’s why you’re seeing a lot of bills that typically might not get onto the calendar, because they’re typically vetted pretty good, haven’t been able to be vetted.”

Legislation establishing a data registry for maternal mortality and morbidity sponsored by State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, made it near the bottom of the calendar. She and her staff spent the final hours before the midnight deadline looking for a way to tack her bill onto a related one as an amendment or try again next legislative session if she gets re-elected.

“I’ve looked for so many other bills and vehicles to try to add this legislation to it,” Thierry said. “But unfortunately, there was very little legislation done this session on maternal mortality, and I think that speaks and underscores why I am still continuing to champion this issue.”

“It’s a balancing test,” Thierry said.

“There’s a lot of bad policy on the calendar as well, so there are members that were what we call it ‘chubbing,’ that are working to talk those bills down and extend the time so that we run out of time up on the calendar,” she explained. “However, the flip side is that is a lot of good policy such as House Bill 136, and many, many others that will help a lot of Texans, will fall by the wayside also.”

Lawmakers leveraged their relationships in the chamber to make changes to bills that got a floor vote before the clock reached midnight.

“I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to kill bills that are adverse to my district and some of the projects that we have working,” Dean stated.

Friday is the deadline for final passage of House bills on the supplemental calendar. The last day of the legislative session is May 31.

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