AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Thursday promises to be a deadly night for legislation in the Texas House as the legislative clock winds down.
Any bill not yet passed through the lower chamber on second reading by midnight is practically dead. The deadline will pass as many of the leadership’s top priorities are far from finished, but it will not impact the most hotly-debated headline items of the session.
As of 10:30pm, lawmakers were about halfway through the long list of bills set for second reading.
Gun safety regulations
The most contentious legislative debate to form early Thursday afternoon surrounded the gun safety regulations pushed by the families of children killed in Uvalde.
Democrats attempted to revive the bill that would raise the age to buy assault-style rifles to 21. House Bill 2744 died in the Calendars Committee after receiving surprise approval by the House Select Committee on Community Safety earlier this week. Without support from Calendars Committee chairman Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, it was not placed on the schedule for debate in the full House.
In lieu of that, Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, attempted to amend the bill’s language onto another firearm-related bill. Those amendments both died on procedural objections from Representatives Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, and Cody Vasut, R-Angleton.
House lawmakers on Thursday voted to put legalized sports betting to the voters this year. Plano Republican Jeff Leach’s legislation just barely crossed the two-thirds threshold required for this constitutional amendment with 100 ayes and 42 nays.
HJR 102 proposes amending the Texas Constitution to allow wagering on sports events including professional teams, golf tournaments, and racing. The measure will likely fail in the Texas Senate.
The House and Senate remain at intractable odds regarding how best to lower Texans’ property tax bills. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is advocating for Senate bills that would increase the homestead exemption to $70,000.
Speaker Dade Phelan and his chamber are backing a separate proposal to apply a five percent appraisal cap to all property. Patrick has called the idea “bad math” and said he will not negotiate with the House plan.
Yet, these competing bills have already passed in their respective chambers and will not be impacted by Thursday’s deadline.