Some members of the Texas House on Tuesday issued a loud demand for the Senate to take action on their bills — or else.
"When the Senate won't respect us, they need to expect us," state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, said, shortly before asking his colleagues to open the House chamber doors so senators could hear their protest.
House members then roared with disapproval, just the latest example of tensions flaring between the two chambers in the final days of the legislative session. The last day of the session is Monday.
It all began when state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, took to the floor to accuse the Senate of "taking hostages" by bottling up House bills, including his proposal to disqualify any of the governor’s big donors from appointments to state boards and commission. Larson said he did not know that Gov. Greg Abbott's call for ethics reform "precluded" the governor himself.
"I've got six," Larson said. "How many other bills were held hostage by the Texas Senate?"
"We do have a local and consent calendar coming tomorrow," Larson added ominously, raising the prospect that House members could kill dozens of noncontroversial Senate bills.
Dutton said 21 House members have had bills pass the lower chamber that have not even been referred to a Senate committee. He then addressed members near the back of the chamber.
"I don't know if they can see us," Dutton said, "but would you have them open the door so they can hear us?"
Legislative records show the Senate has received 58 bills from the House this session but has not acted on them. By the end of the last session, only one such bill had stalled in the upper chamber.
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggests he there is still more work to do on his priorities in the final days of the session.
- Dutton has previously decried Senate inaction on at least one of his bills.