With 37 members missing from House's first Saturday meeting — many of them Republicans — Democrats seized a chance to cause some procedural mischief when they realized only 14 of them would have to walk out to break a quorum.

To keep that from happening, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, asked Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, for a roll call, which would keep members inside the chambers with locked doors. With Democrats outraged by that, Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, went to the back mike in the chamber to ask that a roll call include all 150 members — calling on DPS troopers to track down absent members and bring them in to be counted. Chisum backed down and withdrew his motion.

But then Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, came forward with another motion. He asked the House to suspend all rules — something that would make technical points of order invalid and allow House business to proceed without a quorum present — and schedule the day's most controversial bills, HB 274, 272, and 400 for Monday.

Then partisan chaos erupted. At the back mike, Turner said the integrity of the House was at stake — and that the motion was an "abridgement of everything the House stood for." Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer took over, asking Hunter just what rules he intended to suspend. Members on the floor shouted out the answer before Hunter did: "All."

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"We threw out a chair because he didn't follow the rules," said Martinez Fischer, "If you don't want to follow the rules, that's on you." 

Now the House is proceeding to regular business, but it looks like more stall-tactics are on the way. Watch this space for updates.


by Brandi Grissom
To keep you better informed of the blow-by-blow in the House today, we're turning this into a live blog. Here we go. Right now, Rep. Eiland is arguing against moving the question on the tort reform bill. "It's very disappointing," he said. Republicans he said can do this without resorting to this level of suppression of the minority voice.
by Morgan Smith
The house has just passed the loser pays bill on 2nd reading -- without debate or amendments. Applause in the chamber. Of course, Dems could come back with amendments on 3rd reading — but to pass one then takes a two-thirds vote.
by Brandi Grissom
House is standing at ease to discuss Rep. Gallego's point of order on HB272.
by Brandi Grissom
House adjourns til Monday 10 a.m.
by Morgan Smith
At press gaggle, Straus said that it was not his first choice to call the question and suspend amendment and debate for 274 — but that Dems indicated they would "give no quarter" and intended to kill all the bills they brought up. He said that he hopes this will be the last time he uses that move this session.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Gallego said adjournment came after someone realized the mood on the floor wasn't "exactly sunny." Understatement of the day.
Ending our live blog now. We'll have a full story to follow up on the action today and what it means for the remaining few weeks of the session.

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