Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 114: The House

Today is the 114th day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House reconvenes at 10 am, the Senate at 11 am. Here's what's going on in the House:

The House rules require that committees give five days notice before holding a public hearing to consider a bill. However, just like the in Senate, the House can vote to suspend those rules with a 2/3 majority. The five day posting rule was suspended last night for HB 415. The bill, by Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), would allow the Bureau of Vital Statistics to issue revised birth certificates for children adopted by same-sex parents that include both parents names (read LQ's analysis of the bill). With the posting rules suspended HB 415 will likely be heard today in the House Public Health Committee.

The committee has until midnight this Monday, May 19th, to vote on HB 415. Even if the bill passes out of committee it is unlikely that, this late in the session, it has time to pass. The deadline for bills of this nature to pass their first vote in the House is midnight on May 22nd. There are hundreds of bills that have already passed out of committee waiting to make it to the House floor, HB 415 may simply be too far back in line to pass this late in the game.

HB 1942, the "super" anti-bullying bill crafted by the House Public Education bill and carried by Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) passed on second reading with over whelming bipartisan support last night (read LQ's analysis of the bill). The state constitution requires bills to be "read" on three different days in both the House and Senate (they don't read the entire bill, just the bill number and short description called the "caption"). A vote is taken after the second and third readings. House Bills must pass both votes before being sent to the Senate for consideration. HB 1942 is on the list of bills to be considered on third reading today and will be one of the first orders of business when the House reconvenes.

Three amendments were added to the bill during the debate last night. The first, by Patrick, was to clarify that the bill applied to activities that take place "in" a vehicle operated by the school district not "on" a vehicle as the bill originally stated. The other two were offered by David Simpson (R-Longview) and dealt with victims of bullying responding by physically confronting their tormenters.

Simpson's first amendment prevents school districts from beginning disciplinary procedures against a student who uses "reasonable self defense" in response to bullying. Several House members pointed out that there were already provisions in the education code permitting self defense but Simpson argued that those protections were only allowed once disciplinary proceedings started and his amendment would prevent schools from beginning the proceedings in the first place. A motion was made to table the amendment which failed, 43 yeas to 86 nays. Simpson and Patrick then briefly spoke away from the microphones, when they returned Patrick said she was agreeable to the amendment and it was added with no further debate.

Simpson's second amendment required school districts, as part of the bill's anti-bullying education requirement, to instruct students in "self-defense in response to [bullying]." The amendment does not specify if this education requirement would be in the form of formal self-defense training, or just a general instruction to punch the other guy in the nose (Simpson was very consistent in in talking about his amendments that the students he had in mind were male, although the text of the amendments themselves are not gender specific). Patrick said she agreed with the amendment and it was added with no debate.

After brief statements by other lawmakers (that really had nothing to do with this bill), a vote was taken and the bill passed, 102 "yeas" to 34 "nays". The record vote is not yet available on the Texas Legislature Online, but Equality Texas Reports via facebook that the no votes were:

Berman(R); Cain(R); Chisum(R); Christian(R); Creighton(R); Crownover(R); Fletcher(R); Flynn(R); Garza(R); Geren(R); Hancock(R); Howard, Charlie(R); Hughes(R); King, Phil(R); Kolkhorst(R); Laubenberg(R); Legler(R); Lyne(R); Miller, Doug(R); Miller, Sid(R); Morrison(R); Paxton(R); Phillips(R); Price(R); Riddle(R); Schwertner(R); Smith, Wayne(R); Solomons(R); Taylor, Larry(R); Taylor, Van(R); Thompson(D); White(R); Workman(R) and Zedler(R)

1 comment:

  1. Bullying is certainly a problem that should be resolved by the responsible government agencies with the help of teachers and parents. A school's security staff should also be aware on how to respond properly to these incidents.

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