Points of order and related parliamentary issues have plagued the House this session. An early example came during a meeting of the House Elections Committee in March, which had hundreds of people sign up to testify on legislation revising voting laws. When the chair abruptly recessed the meeting, he failed to set a time to return, which meant that the bill had to be rescheduled for another day.
Recently, bills have been knocked down on points of order during House floor debate, or withdrawn from consideration on the House floor because of a known point of order. At this point in the session, there is often time to remedy the error, and in this case, the bills were returned to committee and will presumably resurface on the House calendar at some point. As legislative deadlines approach in May, a point of order can kill a bill completely.
Tuesday, the House Public Education Committee was a victim, as the committee inadvertently began the second part of its hearing while the House was in session, which is prohibited under the House rules. This delayed the hearing on a charter school bill (SB 28) that the education community has been concerned about due to its increase of commissioner authority over the approval of charters, the elimination of zoning restrictions on charter schools in small cities, and other concerns.
Among the bills heard before the House went into session (during the "legal" segment of the meeting) was SB 179 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, sponsored in the House by Rep. Mary Gonzalez, which would ensure that counselors spend at least 80% of their work time in actual counseling duties, which do not include test administration or other administrative duties. Several witnesses spoke in favor of the bill, while a representative of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association opposed it, in part due to concerns over the ability of rural/small districts to comply.
The bills that could not be heard in the later part of the meeting will be rescheduled.