Friday, August 4, 2017

#TXLEGE: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from today's house floor session....


"Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing."
Isaiah 40:15

[Note: We also ran into Mayor Adler in the house gallery and had a very...frank...exchange of ideas about the City of Austin budget; we're not sure which category to place it into.]

Interesting day today.  Probably doesn't mean much.  But some thoughts:

The Good:
  • Cook Amendment Fails - HB 25 is an obnoxious piece of legislation that attempts to use sick children as human shields to expand Medicaid.  In addition to being outside the bounds of the special session call [Note: Why didn't anyone call a point of order on this?!?], as originally filed the bill would have paid for the medicaid expansion by raiding the rainy day fund.  Yesterday, during second reading, Matt Krause had an amendment adopted that shifted to a different funding source.

    Today, on third reading, Byron Cook offered an amendment to restore the rainy day fund raid [Note: Third reading amendments are considered a big deal in the legislature].  Proponents of the bill attempted to argue raiding the rainy day fund would make the Governor more likely to add the bill to the special session call.  Dennis Bonnen attempted to talk sense by pointing out there was no way the Governor would support raiding the rainy day fun.

    Sarah Davis attempted to accept Cook's amendment.  Jonathan Stickland LOUDLY objected and asked for a record vote.  Cook's amendment ultimately failed 67-67.
  • HB 22 fails on verification vote - This bill would extend the life of a school funding programs.  It was widely assumed the bill would pass comfortably.  But a number of the bill supporters received the benefit of ghost voting and weren't actually on the floor when the bill passed.  Some astute observer asked for a verification vote where the bill failed.

    Obviously, they'll bring this bill back next week but it was still amusing to see leadership get egg on their face.
The Bad:
  • Huberty's TERRIBLE school finance bill passed with minimal opposition - During his layout for the bill, Huberty attempted to call this an olive branch, but it's actually a middle finger.  Furthermore, he claimed the bill would "reform education" when it literally does the exact opposite.  This bill does nothing but pour money into the status quo.

    Furthermore, Huberty attempted to claim school districts don't waste money and that the bill would allow school districts could reduce taxes "if the so choose."

    The bill ultimately passed 130-12 without amendment, with all present Freedom caucus members (joined by Morgan Meyer and Scott Sanford) voting no.
Which brings us to THE UGLY:
  • Todd Hunter created amendment rules that made any amendment non-germane - According to Capitol soucrces, the rules adopted for this bill meant that any amendment that "added language" to the bill wasn't germane.  This was in direct contradiction to what Hunter said on the House floor on Wednesday about the process.  No members, including but not limited to Freedom Caucus, were allowed to place amendments on the bill.

    Still don't understand why anyone didn't point this out during floor debate....

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