Legislative Line — April 17, 2017

A report on action this week at the Texas Capitol from the Texas Association of Dairymen governmental relations team.

The Texas House returned Monday and the Senate will gavel in Tuesday following the Easter holiday weekend and start the final push to the end of the legislative session on May 29.

Last week the anti-Speaker Joe Straus/Freedom Caucus members of the Texas House used the back mic to draw attention to what they see as a slow down by leadership of some of their priorities this session—namely SB 6 or the “bathroom bill.”

Rep. Tony Tinderholt made a series of parliamentary inquiries to ask why SB 6 hasn’t been referred to committee yet. A quick review shows that SB 6 arrived in the House on March 16 but hasn’t received any further action. At the time, the chairman of the committee expected to get the bill had said the legislation would probably receive a hearing if referred to his committee.

Another showdown between the Freedom Caucus and House leadership played out on the House floor Thursday. Bedford Republican Jonathan Stickland, one of the most vocal members of the Freedom Caucus, raised objections to two pieces of legislation being carried by Rep. Cindy Burkett. Stickland also knocked a pair of local bills put forward by Reps. John Wray and DeWayne Burns.

We can expect this faction of the House Republicans to continue to go up against the majority of the House. Tensions between the groups are high early. This will only lead to more procedural maneuvers later in session as the clock winds down, ultimately causing many bills to fail in their wake.

Senate Action: 

On Tuesday the Senate passed SB 1383 by Chairman Charles Perry to allow trucks transporting fluid milk to run up to 90,000 pounds, with a third axle. TAD supports this legislation. A prescribed route would be associated with the heavy permit allowing state regulators and milk haulers to access the safest route to the milk processing facilities along with a permit fee to assist in off-setting road impact. The Senate adopted a floor amendment addressing some county concerns before ultimately passing the measure by a vote of 28-3.

House Action:

On Wednesday, the House Agriculture & Livestock committee took up HB 2758 by Rep. Charlie Geren is the companion to SB 1172, the statewide seed standardization law. It was left pending. SB 1172 by Sen. Charles Perry was referred to the committee on Wednesday.

This Week:

The House Agriculture and Livestock Committee will meet Wednesday, April 19, at 8 a.m. to consider: