House Republicans Fail to Move Up Bills

House Democrats narrowly avoided a Republican-led effort on Tuesday to rearrange the chamber's calendar to make sure controversial measures got a vote before a midnight deadline.

Chairman State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, sponsor of HB 910 open carry legislation, just before final passage of the bill April 17, 2015 by a 96-35 House vote.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

House Democrats narrowly avoided a Republican-led effort on Tuesday to rearrange the chamber's calendar to make sure controversial measures got a vote before a midnight deadline. 

Republicans needed a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules and reorder the calendar; the 96-53 vote didn't meet that threshold. Two Republicans, Rep. Rick Galindo of San Antonio and Sarah Davis of West University Place, voted against the calendar switch-up, while one Democrat, Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston, voted for it.

On the House schedule Tuesday are bills affecting abortion, ethics and guns on college campuses. But members will have to slog through a heap of old business before they can take up those big-ticket items ahead of the midnight deadline

State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, requested that the House move those pieces of old business — bills they have already approved initially, and that aren't subject to the midnight deadline — to the back of the calendar. 

But switching up the calendar required the approval of two-thirds of the members present. Among the variables that could have affected the vote was state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, who has been absent for weeks due to medical issues. Dukes arrived on the House floor in a neck brace minutes before the vote. 

Looking over the day's calendar, Phillips said it was "chock full"  of meaningful bills that could fall against the deadline if Democrats try to delay them. 

"We're trying to take care of the state's business," he said. 

State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, argued that there was no reason to change the calendar process at the last minute.

"All of the bills are important. Every last one of them," he said. "The order which we’ve been following is also important.”

When asked why his vote was contrary to his Republican colleagues, Galindo said it was because one of his own bills was approaching on the calendar, and he didn't want it to be skipped over. He said he would be voting with his party on the campus carry and abortion bills. 

As for Coleman's vote — a break with his Democratic peers — he said, "I kept my promise to a colleague" and declined to elaborate. When asked if he was concerned he might help Republicans rearrange the calendar, Coleman said, "I know how to count."

Reporter Morgan Smith contributed to this story.