Texas

House Budget Bill Heads To Floor, Freighted With Divisive Amendments

The riders include measures that have already passed the Senate, such as the “bathroom bill,” which Speaker Joe Straus is not inclined to bring up for votes.

The Texas House is gearing up for a final debate on its version of the state budget. Members have attached some 400 amendments to the budget bill. Among them are controversial measures Speaker Joe Straus would prefer to keep off the floor.

The amendments include one by Spring Republican Valoree Swanson similar to the Senate’s Texas Privacy Act, also known as the bathroom bill. Several others would force the House to take a position on school choice.

“The budget is an ideal vehicle for these types of amendments,” says Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “One, because unlike a lot of other legislation, the budget actually has to pass. The second is, the budget encompasses a whole host of activities, and thereby it’s a little more difficult to rule that something isn’t germane if you attach it on funding for a specific task.”

Difficult, but not impossible. The speaker has considerable leeway in deciding what’s germane and what isn’t under parliamentary rules. And the sheer number of riders may make the task simpler. “The more amendments that there are, the easier it is to sideline amendments that you don’t like,” Jones says.

The budget is scheduled to go to the House floor on Thursday.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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