House Declares War on Senate Over Disrespect for the Process
Update 1:00 p.m.: The skirmish over floundering House bills in the Senate has been resolved. Over a lunch recess in both the Senate and the House, lawmakers met to discuss Rep. Harold Dutton and Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon’s claims that certain Senators were killing a few of their bills.
According to the Texas Tribune, Sen. Rodney Ellis, one of the senators allegedly stopping the bills, said he was working on a deal with Dutton.
“Everybody is happy. I love everybody,” he told the Tribune. “I’m trying to call Dutton right now.”
Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) took to the front mic early Friday morning, upset over the Senate reportedly killing one of his uncontested bills. Dutton said he felt the Senate was disrespecting the legislative process.
“If the Senate doesn’t respect us, they need to expect us,” he said. “My message to the Senate is they need to be scared of someone in the House.”
To a bipartisan standing ovation from the floor, Dutton said he was headed over to the Senate, to give them a piece of his mind. He later changed course and said he instead intended to kill each Senate bill on today’s local and consent calendar until his bill was heard in the Senate.
The Texas Tribune reports Dutton could be referring to his largely uncontested House Bill 2139, which would allow a management district in Houston to undertake tax increment financing to pay for improvement projects—in other words, a highly local issue.
Sens. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) took issue with some of Dutton’s legislation according to the Quorum Report.
Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) also took to the back mic to say she would do anything she had to do to keep Senate bills on the local and consent calendar from being heard today until one of her floundering bills also got a vote.
“I have a concern about a bill that I personally have worked on for about four or five years to get out of this body,” McClendon told the press later. “We were able to work and compromise and talk to people and we got the bill out… there’s a member over there who says she’s going to kill the bill.”
McClendon pointed to Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who has threatened to kill House Bill 166.
“I don’t have a reaction on what she said but I have a reaction on what she did,” McClendon said. “I thought we were all getting along until bills were held up.”
HB 166 bill would create the “Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission” to investigate wrongful convictions and look for ways to improve the criminal justice system. McClendon’s bill passed out of the House in late April and was left pending in the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee as of Tuesday. Timothy Cole was wrongly convicted of raping a fellow Texas Tech student in 1985. He died in 1999 while serving a 25-year sentence.
The House has postponed hearing any of the Senate bills on the local and consent calendar until 1:15 p.m. Friday, although earlier Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), stated from the speaker’s dias that it’s the House intention to move all Senate bills from this calendar to Monday’s calendar.
In the meantime, the House stands recessed for lunch.
The Observer will update as we learn more.