AUSTIN – In the 140 day law passing session known as the the 85th legislative session in the Texas House, the Texas Freedom Caucus has found a way to cut back on all the arguing by stalling to kill local and consent bills.
The Legislature is running a little behind, in fact last May 11, they were still going through May 6’s calendar. Then the Freedom Caucus began to delay legislation. The single exception was that following a tearful begging by State Rep. Drew Springer, R., a bill dealing with stem cell treatment got hustled through. The representative’s wife has a spinal injury and the bill passed with seconds left that might be able to treat her ailment.
“The Mother’s Day Massacre,” pitted factions of the House Republicans as major deadlines closed in to kill other legislation.
House Bill 3476 to ensure echocardiograms for first year athletes before playing sports was dead on the floor without a trial. This was the bill that Crosby resident, Scott Stephens had sought for eight years. Since the death of his son that bill had been unanimously passed by the House Committee.
In fact most of the bills killed are fairly no issue, consented to without much fanfare, sometimes called local and consent calendar items, so they are passed easily. But they can be filibustered to death just by mumbling words at the podium or finding five signatures in opposition.
State Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R. – Irving Texas summed up the Freedom Caucus reaction, “When you give people nothing, they have nothing to lose and they’re going to fight for their constituents and if they can’t do it within the system, they’re going to do it without the system.”
Certainly the similarity to Marx’s Communist Manifesto is just coincidental. The Freedom Caucus labelled House Speaker Straus’ followers “Not Conservative Enough,” and have been at odds since he became the Speaker in 2009. The conservative group cites that many of their billls were not passed by the House Leadership.
Some concern has been expressed that if the caucus delays the budget and the Sunset Bill (a lawmaker review of state agencies and their improvement) could shutter the Texas Department of Transportation if recommendations are not passed.
Thirty seven of 295 bills on the agenda got passed, after getting stuck on an abortion-related bill and then being held up by overt obstruction in the evening by the Freedom Caucus members, who slowed progress on the floor by proposing amendments, debating no issue measures at length and frequently asking questions.