House, Senate Clash Over Dutton Bill Resolved

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, at the Democratic caucus regarding state budget matters on May 17, 2013.
State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, at the Democratic caucus regarding state budget matters on May 17, 2013.

Updated, 1 p.m. 

A clash between the House and Senate on Friday morning appears to be water under the bridge.

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, had threatened to kill every Senate bill on the House's local and consent calendar as retribution for the holding up of his bill, House Bill 2139, which would allow a local management district in Houston to change the area's taxing structure.

Houston lawmakers framed it as a local dispute, but indicated that it was in the process of being resolved. State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said she had questions about the bill because it would affect her district as well as the district of the bill's Senate sponsor, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

"It impacts a management district that's in my district, and that's why I am concerned," Garcia said.

 

Shortly after Dutton's threats, the Senate recessed. Ellis began brokering a deal with Dutton.

"Everybody is happy. I love everybody," he said. "I'm trying to call Dutton right now." 

Shortly thereafter, Ellis tweeted a photo of himself standing in a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, including Dutton and Garcia, giving the thumbs up. "We can all get along! Deal done," he wrote.

In the meantime, Dutton's bill had been reported favorably passed out of the Senate committee where it was being held.

That does not change the fact that many representatives appeared to agree with Dutton's assertion that the Senate has "not been respectful" this session. State Sen. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-Houston, also threatened to kill Senate bills because House Bill 166, which would create an "innocence commission," has apparently stalled in the upper chamber.

Original story: 

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, upset over one of his bills being held up in the Senate, said Friday morning that the Senate has "not been respectful" and added that it has "gotten to the point now where I think we ought to do something about it."

Delivering a speech to his House colleagues, Dutton explained that his bill, which deals with a local matter, passed the House without objections on the local and consent calendar and is being held up in the Senate because "there’s one guy who is upset."

 

Dutton didn't specify the legislation in his speech, but based on his description of the bill, he appeared to be referring to House Bill 2139, which relates to "the authority of the Near Northside Management District to undertake tax increment financing."

"They need to be scared of somebody in this House," Dutton said of the Senate, referencing something he said his father said when he was a child. "They need to be scared of somebody in this House instead of somebody somewhere."

As he was speaking, a bipartisan group of House members prepared to walk over to the Senate in protest.

"If the Senate doesn’t respect us, they need to expect us," Dutton said.

He then issued his final warning, to significant applause from his fellow representatives: "I’m headed over there."

He headed for the door, and a number of other members from both parties appeared ready to go with him.

After some moments of confusion in the House, Dutton walked to the back microphone in the House chamber and declared his intention to speak for 10 minutes on every Senate bill on the local calendar, which would effectively kill each one. Rather than let all the Senate bills die, the House postponed consideration of local and consent bills until this afternoon as they worked out the issues.

State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, also rose to the back microphone to express concerns about a bill that she says is dear to her but is being threatened in the Senate by one member.

"If God gives me the strength to walk back here on every one of those bills that belongs to that senator, I will do what I have to do," she said.

She later told reporters that she was referring to House Bill 166, which would create an "innocence commission." State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, has expressed strong opposition to the bill.

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, questioned the optics of the situation. "To the casual observer, it comes off as really racist because you have white female Republicans killing black Democratic members' bills," he said.

We will update this story as we get responses.

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