On May 25th the ACT ! For America Houston Chapter issued a news alert publicizing the failure of SB531 (ALAC) to receive enough votes to move the bill out of the House Calendars Committee before the May 24th deadline, which meant the bill could not progress in the 84th Legislative Session.
AS many of you may now have heard, SB 531 (ALAC) did NOT receive enough votes to move the bill out of the House Calendars Committee before last night’s deadline, meaning that the bill can no longer progress in this Legislative Session.
ALAC is unlikely to be revived for the 2015 session.
We are awaiting for the minutes of last nights Calendar Committee Meeting to be published to learn more about how the votes played out, but it appears that a stunning last-minute reversal by a co-Sponsor of the Bill who had previously been a long-time supporter of ALAC abruptly switched her vote in the Calendars Committee to NO from Yes which prevented the Bill from loving forward.
This came as a particular blow not only because the fatal strike appears to have come from one of our own, and also not only because there were enough votes anticipated on the House Floor for SB 531 to pass the final hurdles in the House to be sent to the Governor’s desk for signature, but the real sting is that it seems as though it was a Houston area representative whose last minute voted switch caused the Bill to fail.
The news alert further explains:
Time will allow us to review how yesterday’s events played out, to plan better for the future and most importantly to hold accountable those who say one thing to get elected, but vote against the wishes of their constituents once in office.
Publicity of this event through social media networks prompted Rep. Debbie Riddle to respond:
I strongly oppose Sharia law in Texas. As a Co-Sponsor of SB 531 and the House companion HB 562, I wholeheartedly agree no foreign law should supersede Texas law, Federal law, or our Constitution.
SB 531 was sent to the House Calendars Committee in a form which caused me concern. Those concerns were based on how the bill changed family law. Texas families are currently afforded the ability to enter into different agreements according to the principles of their faith, including custody agreements and marital agreements. SB 531 could have undermined these agreements, which are entered into freely and legally.
SB 531 referred to “good morals or natural justice.” While the bill attempted to define these terms, they remained poorly defined and would have been left wide open to interpretation. I believe this would have cost Texan’s their hard earned money in legal fees while lawyers wrangled over the meaning of SB 531.
Read the rest of Rep. Debbie Riddle’s newsletterNewsletter on Sharia (May 26 2015)
Then yesterday May 30th ACT! For America posted a series of questions on their blog they believe not only Rep. Debbie Riddle should answer, but also Rep. Patricia Harless.
Among them are:
Why is it at the eleventh hour (literally), GOP Reps. Riddle and Harless adopted reasoning adversarial to our Lieutenant Governor, House Judiciary and Senate State Affairs committees, ten Governors, ten Lieutenant Governors, ten State Chambers and ten House Chambers of ten sister states. What expertise do they suddenly now possess that guide their new found reasoning?”
Why did she choose the Calendars Committee as a forum to suddenly dispute the wording of a Bill she had previously agreed to? Surely the appropriate forum for that type of discussion is either from the Floor of the House or in a private exchange with the Bill sponsor to clarify and if necessary craft an Amendment from the Floor to adopt whatever changes are needed. The ethical implications of killing bills from the Calendars Committee based on an unqualified interpretation of a Bill’s phrasing are quite horrific to contemplate.
There are many Bills that are changed by subsequent Legislative sessions if found be flawed. Why was her solution to kill her own Bill at the last minute and not that?
ACT! For America concludes their post with:
We press on and part of that process is to make Legislators account for their actions to Texans, and that those same Legislators be held accountable for their votes should they not reflect the wishes of the citizens who elected them.
Rep Riddle & Rep. Harless should be no different.
Why at the eleventh hour indeed.
Here’s what happens when you change lanes at the last minute: