What will happen next in the debate over the contentious “sanctuary cities” bill is anyone’s guess. As the afternoon bleeds into night, Democrats in the Texas House are still huddling on the floor to discuss their next move.
The bill, HB 12 by state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, would prohibit cities, counties and other governmental entities or special districts from adopting a policy that prevents law enforcement from asking persons lawfully detained or arrested if they are in the country legally.
The bill has been one of the most volatile this session ever since Gov. Rick Perry declared it an emergency item in January, and tensions boiled over last weekend after Democrats successfully derailed the item on Friday. A point of order was called after a discrepancy was found on a witness affirmation form submitted to the House Committee on State Affairs, where the bill was heard months ago. House rules were suspended to quickly move the bill back out of committee and place it back on the calendar. It was supposed to be heard this afternoon, which almost happened.
Democrats, however, quickly began to huddle after Solomons laid out the bill with his own amendment that would exclude hospital districts and include language ensuring racial profiling would not be allowed. But Democrats had plenty of additional amendments they wanted to present, and feared the GOP would deploy the same strong-arm tactics they used Saturday. In a rare move that day, House Republicans voted to suspend all necessary rules on a bill that would require lawsuit losers to pay the legal fees for both sides in certain cases. The rule-suspension eliminated all debate and consideration for additional amendments. Cooler heads prevailed this afternoon, however, and the bill was slightly amended on third reading.
Despite the cooperation earlier, however, tempers could flare again if a compromise isn't reached. So members are currently debating whether or not a deal will be made that will allow debate and consideration of additional amendments on HB 12.
As of 8:00 p.m., Democrats weren’t satisfied, saying that “no deal” was reached. The House continues to deliberate other bills, however, and some House members are planning on a long night ahead.
"Things could blow up," offered one House Democrat.