You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Two Views: Which bills will survive distance between Senate, House?


In 1990, a Democratic member of the U.S. House named Al Swift was quoted in D.C.-area media reports as saying “Republicans are the opposition, but the Senate is the enemy.”

That line remains a shrewd observation today.

Though partisanship is a considerable factor in any legislative body, nothing unites a legislative body like the disdain it has for its counterpart.

There are about 70 days left in the 2017 biennial legislative session. Tomorrow, we will be at the exact midpoint of the 140-day legislature. Let’s take stock of where Gov. Greg Abbott’s four emergency items stand:

• Child Protective Services reform: It has passed both the House and the Senate.

• Ethics reform: It was authored by State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, passed the Senate unanimously and now rests in the hands of State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth. It appears that ethics reform will happen this session, with the leadership of Taylor, Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

• Sanctuary cities: Legislation to crack down on jurisdictions that ignore federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers authored by State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, passed the Senate on a party line vote. The House heard its own bill in the State Affairs Committee last Wednesday. I expect the House to also move its own version of the bill and a conference committee to resolve the differences.

• Convention of States: Abbott’s final emergency item, passing a resolution that would endorse a Constitutional Convention, has also passed the Senate. I suspect the House will also pass it.

The Senate passed these four emergency items early — in some cases before the House even appointed committees.

But many important issues remain:

•The budget: The House and the Senate are quite far apart in their respective biennial budgets, with the initial Senate budget of $103.6 billion in state general revenue and the House budget at $108.9 billion.

One fundamental difference: The House relies more heavily on tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund, while the Senate budget, House allies say, makes deep cuts in state spending that universities argue would cripple many regional universities and reduce funding for some facilities.

• School choice: The Education Savings Account bill, SB 3, authored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, was heard in committee last Thursday. I expect that it will pass the Senate, although House Education chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has said he does not believe it has the support to pass the House.

•School finance: On March 6, Huberty unveiled a $1.6 billion plan as a “first step” to fix the state’s school funding system. The Texas Tribune reported that the bill “would boost per-student funding for nearly every public and charter school in the state while reducing the amount of money wealthier school districts are required to give up to buoy poorer ones.”

•Ride-hailing: Last week the House and Senate held committee hearings on bills that would overrule city ordinances regulating ride-hailing.

• Texas Privacy Act: The Senate passed SB 6, which requires all Texans to use the bathroom of their biological sex in government buildings, universities and schools. House leaders have expressed serious concerns about the legislation and its potential effect on the state’s economy.

• Paycheck protection: Senate State Affairs chairwoman Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, both have bills to require labor unions in Texas to collect their own dues instead of the state collecting for them.

In the end, the House will hold back Senate bills and the Senate will hold back House bills — and both sides will need to cut a deal to avoid a special session.

The governor has been crystal clear on his four emergency items. At least publicly, he has been less clear on the remaining hot button issues.

What gets done? What is left undone? Will there be a special session? How does this play in primary and general elections next year? Stay tuned.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance
Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance

It was a Tuesday that careened between low rhetoric and high drama as the Texas House churned toward the unlikely intersection of energy industry regulation and who should go to which bathroom. The day’s highlight was the bill needed to keep the Texas Railroad Commission in business. Lurking in the background were amendments that would have set...
Freedom Caucus conservatives are today’s abolitionists

The House Freedom Caucusis taking flak, with many saying they are responsible for the failure to pass the American Health Care Act. With all other Republicans on board, the votes of the 29 Freedom Caucus members could have led to passing the legislation. But they refused to support it. Should they be chastised as obstructionists? Are they childish...
Letters to the editor: March 29, 2017
Letters to the editor: March 29, 2017

Re: March 20 commentary, “Wear: Uber and Lyft ride hail into the Legislature — again.” Regarding Uber and Lyft: Ben Wear may want to look up “overconfidence effect” — that is, the tendency for people to think they know more about a subject than they actually do. I don’t think you’ll find many who think...
Commentary: The creative working class are bringing American jobs back
Commentary: The creative working class are bringing American jobs back

Even though tech progress tends to grab more headlines, there’s another “Made in America” story to be told. There’s a harkening back to the days of craftsmanship — and there is a groundswell of interest and entrepreneurship surrounding skills and trades. Legions of people seek work that calls for the use of their hands...
Commentary: We can honor today’s women through common-sense policies
Commentary: We can honor today’s women through common-sense policies

My mother was smart, compassionate and unfailingly giving. Though I don’t believe I will ever be able to equal her in spirit, I am forever grateful for the lessons she gave me and my sisters, which I am now passing on to my daughter. She taught us the vital role we all play in improving the lives of the people we love and the communities we live...
More Stories