As is typical in the final days of a session, the House and Senate are creating drama over each chamber’s treatment of the other’s bills. With a large number of education bills still requiring action from one or both chambers, bad relations between the two could jeopardize passage of some major education legislation.
Three bills on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s extensive priority legislation list died in the House this week: SB 10, prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds on lobbying (eliminating the ability of cities, counties, school districts and others to hire a lobbyist); SB 12, prohibiting social media companies from blocking or banning users based on their views; and SB 29, which would have required transgender students in sports to participate based on the gender reflected on their birth certificate.
At the same time, House members have called into question a lack of reciprocity in bill-passing between the two chambers. In a series of parliamentary inquiries on the House floor Thursday, Rep. Dustin Burrows pointed out that fewer than 50% of House bills sent over to the Senate have passed the Senate, while the House has passed 75% of the Senate bills. He also noted that Thursday morning the Senate had knocked 100 House bills off a calendar reserved for non-controversial legislation, placing them in jeopardy.
Both chambers have been guilty of slow-downs designed to prevent legislation from coming up before key deadlines.
Patrick has asked Gov. Abbott to call an immediate special session to address his priority bills that died this week. Abbott is the only official with authority to call a special session. A special session is already anticipated for this fall to address redistricting issues and COVID-relief funds (in addition to any other issues specified by the governor). So far, Abbott’s response to Patrick’s demand for a June session has been to call the idea "pretty goofy," and to note that if and when he calls a special session he alone has control over which issues are to be addressed in that session.
There are only four days left in this session, which ends on Memorial Day. We will continue our updates on any actions of interest to educators — or any additional drama — over these last few days.