6/29/2011 11:56 AM
The House voted to adjourn sine die around 12:30 p.m., following a vote on Rep. David Simpson's (R-Longview) anti-TSA-groping bill.
As many expected, it did not clear the 4/5 hurdle necessary to suspend the Texas Constitution's three-day reading rule, and failed.
Rep. Linda Harper Brown (R-Irving) had a resolution stating opposition to the TSA's "advanced patdown" procedure, but it apparently did not receive a vote.
The bill passed to third reading 106-27, with 16 "absent," and the motion to suspend the Constitution failed 96-26.
Simpson said (erroneously, he later admitted) that the vote could have been taken last night without having to garner 4/5 support, and that House leadership "worked masterfully" to block it. This met some cheers and shook heads from his colleagues.
Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) said that because the Senate sent the bill over so late that the House leadership had to work extra hard to just get it as far along as it did.
"Because the Senate sent it over so late ... bringing it up wa a significant effort by the leadership," Gallego said.
Simpson, in a personal privilege speech rebuking House leadership, invoked Winston Churchill: "Never, never, never, never give up!" he said. [Note: I might have missed a "never" or two.]
"Our greatest enemy is not terrorists ... Our greatest enemy is ourselves," Simpson said. "The seeds of anarchy and tyranny reside in our own hearts."
Speaker Joe Straus smirked a little as Simpson addressed how the House formally comes to order at certain times just to keep the rules, but often takes up business much later in the day. Simpson called it a violation of the Ninth Commandment ("Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," by the way).
Reps. Jim Keffer and Lanham Lyne were among those noticeably upset with Simpson's comments, walking around the chamber and commenting during much of it. Rep. Charlie Geren just left.
"I'm not only fed up with the TSA ... I'm fed up with phonies," Simpson said, calling the Texas Legislature "Washington here in Austin."
Simpson also said the deferring of $4 billion into next biennium defies the "conservative leadership" espoused by Republican officials. "Is that conservative?" he asked.
Simpson said the overall state budget "increased budget by $1.5 B approximately." He accused his colleagues of approving "handouts to Fortune 500 companies" while education budgets suffered.
"I was told that if I wanted to come back that I have to keep taking pork back to the district," he said. "Well, my constituents don't want more pork ..."
On the anti-groping bill, Simpson said it was a victory for two reasons: 1) it catalyzed grassroots activists to "shine a light" on the lawmaking process, which Simpson said needs reform, and 2) "Laws should be difficult to pass," including his own.
He noted that HB 1937 passed nearly unanimously in the regular session.
Simpson's speech received no applause, except from gallery, who also had some jeers for the House.
"Cowards won't protect us, we'll protect ourselves. Secession!" said a man wearing a T-shirt advertising the Texas Nationalist Movement, a pro-secession group.
The secessionist continued to shout "coward!" outside the gallery, meeting laughs from many members.
In other closing-day personal privilege speeches, Rep. Fred Brown announced he will soon be moving to Salado and will retire his 12-year House seat.
"This is still the best in the world. And I've been proud to be a part of it," Brown said.
Speaker Straus also made some closing remarks, hailing a few milestone bills and noting the "civlility" of the chamber under his leadership.