Monday, May 20, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

Welcome to Hell Week.

Here at the beginning of a week in which most bills in the Texas Legislature will die, the big priorities set out at the beginning, in January, are still alive: school finance, property tax reform, school safety and responses to Hurricane Harvey.

Lots of other proposals are fading fast.

As of Friday, just over 5% of the 7,324 bills filed in the House and Senate this session had made it all the way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. That tells you a bit about what will happen in the next few days. When this is over, when lawmakers have gaveled out on Memorial Day, that percentage will have jumped considerably. Two years ago, 18% of the filed bills made it to the governor. Four years ago, it was 21%. And in 2013, it was 24.4%.

But don’t just look at success; that won’t explain the dramatic tension of the next few days. Look instead at the overwhelming failure rate. Only about 1 bill in 5 -- 1 in 4 in a good year -- makes it out of a regular session alive. Everything else (that hasn’t found new life as an amendment to other legislation) meets its final end in the final week -- when procedural deadlines form a bottleneck that most of the stampeding legislation doesn’t survive.


The Texas Legislature’s Doomsday Calendar -- the dramatic name for the deadlines that stack up at the end of a regular legislative session -- only has a few squares left.

Four of those are red-letter days:

  • Tuesday, May 21, the last day Senate bills can be considered for the first time in the House.
  • Wednesday, May 22, the last day the House can consider Senate bills on a local and consent calendar, which is for uncontested legislation, for the first time.
  • Friday, May 24, the last day the House can decide whether to accept or negotiate Senate changes to bills.
  • Sunday, May 26, the last day the House and Senate can vote on final versions of bills they’ve been negotiating.

The last day -- the 140th -- gets a Latin name, but not a red border. It’s sine die, the last day of the 86th Texas Legislature’s regular session.

Another clock starts then, marking the time between the end of the legislative session and Father’s Day -- June 16 -- the last day Abbott can veto legislation passed by the House and Senate.



David Collins and the Texas Tribune have the latest on HB 2504, the bill that would put the Texas Green Party back on the ballot for 2020.  Spoiler (see what I did there?): Its prospects for becoming law are very good.

Many more updates throughout the week, appearing in the Twitter feed, top right column.

Last weekend's developments saw the death of SB9, but everyone remains on high alert for a zombie amendment to living bills.

And sure enough ...

Meanwhile, Progress Texas brings the good, the bad, and the ugly of the bills that remain among the living.  Kuff analyzes the relentless Republican attack on local control this session.

In news away from the Pink Dome ...

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar
warned against elected officials who fuel Islamophobia and pit religious groups against each other at an Iftar dinner Saturday night in Austin, just days after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called on Austin Mayor Steve Adler not to attend the event.

Omar, 37, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Austin Citywide Iftar Dinner, a ceremonial meal to break the fast during Ramadan. Adler, who (is Jewish and) has attended each of the previous city-wide Iftars, was the guest of honor.

A Dallas woman who was beaten two weeks ago in a parking lot outside her apartment was found shot to death on Sunday afternoon.  She wasn't just another random killing.

Debbie Nathan at The Intercept writes about the vigilante militia defending an imaginary southern border near El Paso.

Socratic Gadfly, with help from political scientist and author Corey Robin, explains that Trump is not a fascist but rather a schematically predictable variety of president.

The Texas Signal notes Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's suddenly-easier path to re-election now that Prop B has been declared unconstitutional (by the same district judge that ordered he and the firefighters union into mediation, which failed).

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer sees all the power players err, zombie endorserati lining up behind one mayoral candidate.

John Nova Lomax, writing at Texas Monthly, takes note of the Bayou City's aggressive plan to make housing more affordable.

Downwinders at Risk is hosting a fundraiser just prior to after Memorial Day weekend.

Rachel Pearson at the Texas Observer flaunts her sorcery.

Harry Hamid blogs about Folli's recuperation (a metaphor for his own, by all indications).

Dan Solomon, also for TM, freaks out just a little at the prospect of Whataburger being sold.

Lisa Gray at Gray Matters (Houston Chronicle) calls on all Houstonians -- really, all good Texans -- to resist bad tacos.

Beyond Bones wants to tell you about Megalosaurus.

Finally, Jesse Sendejas Jr. of the Houston Press went to ZZ Top's 50th Anniversary Bash and had his top blown.  In the revival -- or perhaps last gasp -- of dinosaur rock legends, Cheap Trick and Bad Company opened the evening.

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