For the last 4 months, we’ve provided weekly updates on the Texas Legislature. As we come to a close on this legislative session, hours and days have a way of blending into one another. That’s why we have labeled these final round-ups as the “Death Rattle” sub-series. A death rattle is a slang term for sounds often produced by someone who is near death. Given the destructive state of Texas politics today, we thought this would be appropriate.
The Texas Legislature has been in steady decay ever since Speaker Dade Phelan took over the house. Over the last decade, the House previously was the only chamber pumping the brakes during the state’s rightward turn, but has lately been the hand steering the wheel to the extreme. In Speaker Dade Phelan’s short tenure, he has rammed through more of the extremist agenda than previous Republican speakers – even when they’ve enjoyed larger Republican majorities.
His ineptitude as a Speaker came to a head last week during the floor debate on Senate Bill 14, another anti-transgender bill. Phelan instructed DPS to kick citizens from the House gallery which later culminated in an aggressive arrest of a prominent trans advocate. Additionally, nearly all the bills addressing guns are aiming to loosen restrictions and put more guns into people’s hands. House Bill 2477, which would raise the age from 18 to 21 to purchase a firearm, did pass through a committee it appears unlikely it will be on the full House calendar. And one session after the dangerous abortion ban Republicans passed, they are making it easier to remove democratically elected District Attorneys if they don’t want to put people in prison with House Bill 17.
Unfortunately, while Texas Republicans are still in the majority there are incentives for Democrats to cross party lines on bad votes – and there’s been no shortage of them in this last stretch! Take House Bill 3 for example, this bill would allow more guns in our schools without proper training under the false premise of making our schools safe. However, as Moms Demand and other advocate groups have noted that is not true. Most were surprised to see Democrats like state Representatives Joe Moody and James Talarico, not only vote for the bill but co-author and sponsor it. Other bills with a Democratic crossover that will make you scratch your head include House Bill 17 which could remove District Attorneys who will not prosecute abortion and the book ban bill, House Bill 900.
We can only hope that Texas Democrats remember that our state is getting more competitive electorally. Voting for good bills, and voting against bad ones, is not just an exercise of good policy – it also gets voters excited.
Deadlines and Doom
We are closing in on the final days of deadlines. We hit multiple deadlines this week for House bills but there is still more than enough time for dangerous Senate Bills to move through the other chamber.
The Texas Signal is a progressive, fact-based media company. Our mission is to build a media ecosystem in Texas to help get the progressive message out and challenge right-wing Republicans. Think of us as a megaphone to finally counterbalance right-wing conservatives who have successfully built their own media empire in the Lone Star State.