House Rule Changes Would Do Disservice to Taxpayers

January 13, 2021
TFR Staff
House Rules of Procedure

As the Texas House looks to continue to organize in preparation of doing the work of the 87th Texas Legislature, lawmakers are set to consider an updated rules package that would reduce transparency and limit individual lawmaker’s ability to affect legislation that comes to the floor for a vote.

As noted by the Texas Scorecard‘s Brandon Waltens one of the most onerous changes is a decision to make it harder for lawmakers to put their colleagues on the record on a vote:

Currently, the Texas House rules allow any single member to call for a “record vote,” in which the names of each member and how they voted on a given bill, amendment, or other action is placed into the journal.

The proposed House rule would raise the threshold, requiring three members to request a record vote.

If passed, this change could result in far fewer record votes being placed into public record, obscuring lawmakers’ actions in office, and work to shield them from accountability by their constituents.

Another onerous change is the creation of a “Consensus Calendar” which would create a process whereby lawmakers could put bills where they wanted to prevent amendments.

The practical effect of this rule is that this creates the “No Pro-Taxpayer Amendments” calendar where, even if the entire Republican caucus supported an amendment, they couldn’t even offer it on Second Reading without first getting permission from the Calendars Committee. They could offer it on Third Reading, the next day, but that would be futile because at that point the amendment would require a two-thirds vote and thus the support of the Democrats.

Other changes include requiring face masks on the House floor and in the gallery, the provisions necessary for remote voting, and restrictions on the ability of individuals to record proceedings.

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility recommends lawmakers reject HR 4 in its current form and instead amend their rules to be more citizen and accountability-friendy.