End Game Legislative Action Alerts and Status Report
May 20, 2023 (Day 130 of 140 of the 88th Texas Legislature)
Deadlines are rapidly approaching. Bills have passed, are dying, and progressing. For some it will be a close run thing. Here is the latest from the thick of battle in the end-game.
ACTION TODAY!: Urge House Calendars to Set These Bills on the House Calendar
Two more daily House calendars are left to get bills voted on in the House before midnight, Tuesday, May 23. The Monday calendar that gives the best hope of actually getting a vote on the House floor will be set this afternoon or evening. The Tuesday calendar will probably be set on Monday.
The action item is to email the Calendars Committee, urging immediate placement on the calendar for the following.
If you are able to go to the Capitol, today, visit each Calendars Committee office and fill out a green slip for each.
Important bills in Calendars, ready to be set on the Monday calendar:
- SB 833 King (Oliverson) -- Prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage, discriminating on rates using ESG factors, or targeting disfavored industries.
- SB 1607 Kolkhorst -- Prohibits money transmitters like Paypal from fining their customers for their speech.
- SB 1060 Hughes -- Prohibits ESG related shareholder proposals from being adopted for Texas insurers and insurer holding companies.
- SB 1446 Hughes -- Stops Texas public employee pensions from investing in companies “furthering social, political, or ideological interests.”
- SB 177 – Middleton w Harrison House sponsor -- Casts the unalienable right to refuse using the language of informed consent, which has good legal precedent to back it up. The legislative finding section of the bill is very good. The bill stops anyone from taking an adverse action or imposing a penalty of any kind for refusing a COVID-19 vaccination and imposes $5,000 or more damages against health care providers who administer such.
Important bills for which paperwork is done and arrival in Calendars is imminent:
- SJR 58 / SB 1104 Birdwell w House lead Slawson – Constitutional amendment requiring legislative involvement after 30 days for large-scale disasters. Implementing HB 1104 statute stops future lockdowns and limits scope of what laws can be suspended. Note that this is the bill that implements what the governor said early in session he wants to see before he finally declares the COVID-19 emergency over.
- SB 29 Birdwell – Prohibits governmental vaccine mandates, lockdowns, or mask mandates for COVID-19.
- SB 403 Springer – Texas study on adverse reactions of COVID-19 vax. House Calendars Committee Chair Burrows is House sponsor.
The Border Security End-Game and Action Item
On Thursday, Senate Border Security Chair Brian Birdwell unveiled his substantive committee substitute for the only remaining border security vehicle for the session, State Rep Ryan Guillen’s Speaker designated HB 7 and by end of that day.
Chair Birdwell added back a slightly different version of the border trespass felony and for the most part de-emasculated the border unit, but it left out the most important mission for the unit, to repel. The unit was moved to be part of the Texas Rangers, reporting to the head of the Texas Rangers, up through the directors of the DPS, which reports to the governor. The county veto and jurisdictional limits that previously existed were removed.
The vital thing to know is that the Texas Constitution in Article 4, Section 7 authorizes the governor to repel using the Texas military when invaded. But law enforcement, as this new Border Force will be designated, must have statutory authorization to repel. If we don’t add repel to HB 7, the governor will not have legal authority to use the Texas Border Force to repel and will have to rely on the Texas military to do it.
And, sadly, all legislative findings setting us up with the best constitutional arguments when we are dragged into federal court, are completely missing from the bill. Significantly, a MALDEF attorney testified at the hearing (as she had in House State Affairs), that MALDEF considered any action Texas takes to secure the border to be immigration enforcement and therefore preempted by US v Arizona. It is vital that our border security bills have legislative findings making clear that Texas is NOT enforcing immigration law, but rather acting under the self-defense reservation of power of Article I, Section 10 when we are in imminent danger or actually invaded.
So, I have now crafted an amendment to add the authorization to repel to the Border Force and to add legislative findings giving the governor backing from the legislature to take independent action to protect the people of Texas from the cartels.
ACTION: Use this link to email the Republican Senators and Lieutenant Governor to adopt these two amendments when HB 7 gets to the Senate floor next week.
One note about where we go from here. The heroic Matt Schaefer, who worked on the speaker bill that the speaker stabbed in the back (HB 20) predicts that point-of-order similar to what killed HB 20 will be used to kill HB 7 when it gets back to the House. I have told him that the Speaker will get most of the blame for the failure of his own two border security jewels if the point of order does indeed do as Schaefer predicts. And everyone I have talked to thinks it likely that if HB 7 is killed by the Speaker, that the governor will add border security to the call of the special session we all know is coming for other reasons.
Note that the border interstate compact SB 1403 by Tan Parker and David Spiller has been sent to the governor!
HJR 146 is Hung Up Waiting for Senate Chair Charles Schwertner
After a glorious victory in the House on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 for the right to use currency of choice HJR 146, I think it likely that the bill is dead in the Senate. The deadline for the Senate voting on bills from the House is Wednesday, May 24. Theoretically, it is possible that we could get added if a one more hearing is set on Monday or Tuesday, giving us time for a vote on Wednesday, but that is probably not going to happen.
The roadblock is Senate Business & Commerce Chair Charles Schwertner. We have been pounding the committee with emails and Senator Schwertner with phone calls. I have talked to him personally. Senator Tan Parker has talked to him repeatedly, going so far as to seek the assistance of the Lt Governor, but so far Chair Schwertner has refused to hear HJR 146.
At the end of the session, a crush of bills has hit Chair Schwertner’s committee, and he has to prioritize what bills live and what bills die. Thursday, he chose to hear the corporate welfare bill, HB 5 instead of HJR 146. Friday, he heard these 36 bills instead of HJR 146.
ACTION ITEM: Call Senator Schwertner’s office at 512-463-0105 to ask that he hear HJR 146. Send emails to each Texas Senator urging quick passage of HJR 146 using this link. If we don’t get it heard Monday or Tuesday, the bill is dead. Note that the Senate is going to convene on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm, so theoretically, staff will be in the office in that time frame.
Click here to read more background and rationale and to find a PDF one pager in support of HJR 146.
I plan to start working to ask the governor to add monetary freedom issues, including this bill, digital gold, and CBDC to the special session call. More on that later.
I will tell you that I feel like the salesman in this cartoon:
Given House deadlines, the most important of which is the Tuesday deadline to hear Senate bills on second reading, it is too late for any House hearings next week to do any good.
As stated above, there is slight chance that Senate Business & Commerce will hold a hearing Monday or Tuesday and HJR 146 could be added, but no Senate hearings of substance have been scheduled for next week at this writing.
The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat - Status on Bills We are Supporting
Here are bills that are broad prohibitions on mandating vaccinations:
- HB 44 Swanson / SB 303 Hall – Health care providers who participate in Medicaid and the child health plan program “may not refuse to provide health care service” to enrollees based on “refusal or failure to obtain a vaccine or immunization for a particular infectious or communicable disease.” Penalty to a violating provider is disenrollment from the program. Status: HB 44 passed House and vote held on 5/17 in Senate HHS. Puzzlingly, the record does not show it favorably reported, yet, or placed on intent calendar.
- SB 265 Perry – Requires reporting by physicians about experimental, investigational, and emergency use vaccine or drug-related injuries and adverse events to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Noncompliance subject to disciplinary action by Texas Medical Board. Status: Passed Senate. Dead in House Public Health due to lack of hearing.
- SB 1024 Kolkhorst – Hodgepodge bill that tweaks various vaccination matters. Prohibits private and government K-12 and higher ed COVID-19 vax mandates. Prohibits government mask mandates and lockdowns. Prohibits health care facilities and employers (with exceptions) from discriminating against COVID-19 unvaxxed. Status: Passed Senate. Dead in House State Affairs due to lack of hearing.
- SJR 66 Hall – Addition to Texas Bill of Rights of right to decline medical treatment, including vaccination. Status: Heard in HHS. Dead due to no vote in HHS.
Here are the bills I know of that are introduced as narrowly focused on COVID-19 vaccination:
- HB 81 Harrison (Pub Health) / SB 177 (HHS) Middleton – The good part of this bill is that it casts the unalienable right to refuse using the language of informed consent, which has good legal precedent to back it up. The legislative finding section of the bill is very good. The bill stops anyone from taking an adverse action or imposing a penalty of any kind for refusing a COVID-19 vaccination and imposes $5,000 or more damages against health care providers who administer such. The only problem is the sole application to COVID-19. Status: SB 177 passed Senate, has been in House Calendars 9 days since 5/11.
- SB 29 Birdwell – Prohibits governmental vaccine mandates, lockdowns, or mask mandates for COVID-19. Status: Passed Senate. Paperwork has been issued. May make it to Calendars today in time to get a vote in House.
- SB 426 Paxton – Prohibits Texas bureaucracies from interfering with doctors prescribing off-label medicines to address COVID-19. Status: Passed Senate. Referred to House Public Health. Dead due to no hearing in House Public Health.
- SB 403 Springer / HB 1313 Burrows – Texas study on adverse reactions of COVID-19 vax. Status: SB 403 passed Senate. Reported favorably from House Public Health on 5/18. But paperwork not done. Since this is a Calendars Committee Chair bill, if it makes it to him, likely to be placed on House Calendar, but it will be a close-run thing.
Bills Relating to Practice of Medicine and Patient Rights:
- SB 301 Hall – Texas Medical Board prohibited from disciplinary action against physicians who prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine and pharmacists are prohibited from disputing or otherwise providing medical advice on the safety of those drugs. Pharmacists are shielded from liability for dispensing the drugs. Status: Passed Senate. Dead due to no hearing in House Public Health.
- SB 1583 Hall – Prohibits higher ed that receive public funds from doing “gain-of-function” research and requires all organizations doing “gain-of-function” research in Texas to report it. Status: Dead due to not enough votes to make it to Senate floor.
- SB 666 Hall – Requires standing and prohibits anonymous complaints in the Texas Medical Board disciplinary process and beefs up due process in the disciplinary process. Status: Passed Senate. Dead due to no hearing in House Public Health.
- SB 299 Hall – Hospitals must allow care by physician of choice even if physician is not a member of the hospital’s staff, but hospital not liable for damages resulting from treatment provided by the visiting physician. Status: Dead due to no vote in Senate HHS.
Stopping Future Executive Overreach:
- SJR 58 / SB 1104 Birdwell w House lead Slawson – Constitutional amendment requiring legislative involvement after 30 days for large-scale disasters. Implementing HB 1104 statute stops future lockdowns and limits scope of what laws can be suspended. Note that this is the bill that implements what the governor said early in session he wants to see before he finally declares the COVID-19 emergency over. Status: Passed Senate. Passed House State Affairs and paperwork distributed, but not yet in Calendars. Will be close-run thing to make it through Calendars and get vote by Tuesday, midnight.
- HB 107 Schaefer – Removes separation-of-power-violating open-ended penalties provision in Texas Disaster Act. Since this bill is dead in the House, am urging Schaefer to add it as amendment to HB 1104 if we can get HB 1104 to the House floor.
Texas Resistance to Great Reset
Prohibition from Doing Business with Texas or its Subdivisions
- SB 2530 Hughes – Prohibits financial companies that boycott energy companies from doing business with Texas or its subdivisions. Extends SB 19 from last session that applied same to discrimination against firearms and ammunition manufacturers. Status: Dead due to lack of hearing in House State Affairs.
Texas Fund Divestment
- SB 1446 Hughes -- Stops Texas public employee pensions from investing in companies “furthering social, political, or ideological interests.” Interesting, wide ranging, robust, testimony, the morning after most legislators had gotten to sleep at 3 am. See video of some of the hearing. Status: Passed the Senate. Errors in paperwork caused arrival in Calendars only yesterday, May 19. Needs Calendars to act quickly.
- SB 1489 Creighton / HB 3619 Burrows – Stops Texas university funds from investing in companies that boycott oil & gas companies. Extends SB 13 from last session that required same of Texas pension systems. Status: SB 1489 passed Senate. Both bills dead due to lack of hearing in House Higher Ed chaired by John Kuempel.
Prohibiting ESG Discrimination
- HB 2837 Schaefer -- Prohibits credit card companies from “surveilling, reporting, or tracking” purchases of firearms or ammunition. Enforced via Attorney General civil suits. Status: VICTORY! Finally passed Senate last night, May 19. On the way to the governor after ministerial steps.
- HB 1239 Oliverson / SB 833 King -- Prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage, discriminating on rates using ESG factors, or targeting disfavored industries. Status: HB 1239 stopped on House floor with point of order. Amended SB 833 passed Senate and got to Calendars yesterday, May 19. Quick action by Calendars needed.
- SB 1060 Hughes -- Prohibits ESG related shareholder proposals from being adopted for Texas insurers and insurer holding companies. Status: Passed Senate. Got to Calendars on May 16. Quick action by Calendars needed.
- SB 1607 Kolkhorst -- Prohibits money transmitters like Paypal from fining their customers for their speech. Status: Passed Senate. Errors in paperwork caused arrival in Calendars only yesterday, May 19. Needs Calendars to act quickly.
Pre-emption of Municipality ESG Implementation
- SB 1860 Hughes / HB 4930 Craddick – Prohibits cities from passing charter amendments that create climate change policies. Status: VICTORY! Sent to governor yesterday, May 19.
Stopping Social Media Suppression
- HB 3751 Cain / SB 1602 Hughes – Keeps trials against social media under Texas law in Texas, in other words the venue will be in Texas. Status: VICTORY! SB 1602 sent to governor, May 17.
- HB 3752 Cain / SB 2510 King – Adds statutory damages from social media companies to Texans who have been suppressed. Status: Author of HB 3752 postponed on House floor, killing own bill. SB 2510 not heard in Senate State Affairs.
- HB 4397 Cain / SB 2509 King – includes suppression of Texans speech on social media in definition of deceptive trade practice, enabling penalties of Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Status: Both bills died due to lack of hearing in Dem chaired House Business & Industry.
Monetary stability/Opposition to CBDC
- HJR 146 Capriglione w Senate sponsor Parker – Addition to Texas Bill of Rights to recognize natural right to use currency of choice. Status: Passed House 139 – 2. Likely dead due to lack of hearing in Senate Business & Commerce. (see above)
- SB 2334 Hughes / HB 4903 Dorazio – Digital warehouse receipts/currency backed by gold and silver in Texas Bullion Depository. Status: SB 2334 killed by Senate Finance Chair Joan Huffman. HB 4903 was placed on last day Calendar, but now is dead as vehicle.
- SCR 25 Parker -- Texas resolution against Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Status: Passed Senate. Dead due to not being heard in House State Affairs.
Election Integrity Enforcement
SB 1927 Hughes – The only bill that will be effective in seeing enforcement of election law in big counties in 2024 and beyond. Beefs up existing State Prosecutor Office, delegating independent prosecutorial authority for election integrity, public integrity, abortion, and human trafficking. Status: Dead due to opposition by Senator Joan Huffman.