6/28/2011 4:27 PM
In short: If the anti-groping bill gets amendmended tonight or tomorrow, it dies.
It was a very interesting (and somewhat entertaining) display of parliamentary maneuvering this afternoon, as the Senate sent over SB 29 and the House discussed how it could be passed with such little time left on the clock.
It was thought to be dead in the water as the House passed HCR 5 -- a toothless resolution against the "advanced pat-down" employed by TSA agents at airports.
But the bill received it's eighth of nine lives this afternoon when Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) received permission (by a vote of 97-32) for the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to meet while the House debated budget bill SB 1. The committee has not yet met at the time of writing.
Gallego said SB 29 contains the preferred language from the District and County Attorneys Association and would be more friendly to those who opposed HB 41 in the House on Friday.
A favorable committee bill would not, obviously, receive universal approval. Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) said he wouldn't sign on to the bill because Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the bill was a statement against the Obama Administration.
"Do you think it is the right thing ... that is going to be used to denigrate our president who is trying to keep us safe?" Coleman said.
Gallego called Coleman's objections "unfortunate," and said that HB 41/SB 29 does not represent an issue that differs along party lines.
The Senate adjourned sine die this afternoon, so any amendments Coleman or other opponents may try to tack on would likely doom the bill (the House parliamentarian, when asked by Rep. Phil King of Weatherford, deferred to the Senate parliamentatrian for an answer to that).
The bill may have been the subject of a parliamentary tactic this afternoon. According to Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), the author of SB 29, the House refused to (at first) admit the Senate messenger to the House floor.
According to Patrick, the messenger was "bumped" as a means of preventing Patrick's anti-groping bill from being formally received by the House (and, thus, ineligible for consideration).
Around 3:50 p.m. the messenger was finally admitted.
But earlier, Patrick had some words for his colleagues in the House, calling the maneuver a "shenanigan."
"If I'm not going to fold to the federal government, I'm certainly not going to fold to people in the [Texas] Capitol."
Patrick said the House had ample opportunity to approve Rep. David Simpson's (R-Longview) bill, HB 41, on Friday. The inaction doomed Simpson's version from consideration by the Senate.
"It pretty much killed the bill," Patrick said, noting the Senate met the following Monday to pass SB 29 as a Plan B.
Confused? Most House members LSR spoke to were unaware of various components of today's complicated proceedings. We'll have more after the committee meets ... assuming the House doesn't adjourn before then.
(5:51 p.m.) House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence failed to make quorum at around 5:45 p.m. Gallego opted to call another meeting at some point this evening.
(7:19 p.m.) House adjourned for the day (NOT sine die). Gallego called House committee meeting together and they are discussing pros and cons of SB 29. House may take up bill on Wednesday after 10 a.m.
(8:55 p.m.) Minor edits.