‘Contested, Heated Culture Wars’ Mark Ultraconservative Texas Session


They additionally used last-minute stalling techniques to efficiently kill two different payments within the House that had been priorities for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer within the Senate who later criticized his Republican colleagues within the House for not working onerous sufficient.

When the speaker of the House, State Representative Dade Phelan, was stopped at an entrance to the Senate final month as a result of he lacked a required wristband exhibiting he had a damaging coronavirus take a look at, it began an intraparty debate over whether or not he was denied entry to the chamber. The incident solely heightened the notion that the 2 Republican-led chambers that Democrats accused of advancing such a divisive conservative agenda had been themselves divided.

“There’s always some level of factions just because we’re like any family,” mentioned Mr. Murphy, the Republican caucus chairman. “There’s the ones that have cheese pizza and those who want pepperoni. But we’re all going to sit down for dinner.”

It has been a long time since Molly Ivins, a sharp-witted liberal author recognized for mocking the political established order, famously referred to as the Legislature “the finest free entertainment in Texas.” A freewheeling, folksy historical past has outlined the establishment for the reason that first session in 1846, a exceptional feat contemplating how occasionally it meets — usually as soon as each two years for 140 days.

In 1979, in a transfer not not like what the Democrats pulled off this weekend, a dozen Democratic senators known as the Killer Bees hid offsite to forestall the Senate from reaching a quorum on election laws. State troopers had been dispatched to spherical them up. Officers thought they nabbed State Senator Gene Jones however found, after flying him to Austin in a helicopter, that they as an alternative had his brother Clayton. When Clayton Jones was requested why he went together with the mix-up, he mentioned he had by no means been in a helicopter earlier than.

Decades in the past, throughout one in every of his epic filibusters — during which lawmakers must maintain talking besides when allies ask questions and never go away the ground even for restroom breaks — State Senator A.R. Schwartz, often called Babe, was surrounded by his Democratic colleagues in a nook throughout an extended query. He urinated right into a wastebasket. His allies then cleared out, taking the wastebasket with them.

Molly Ivins-style moments of levity nonetheless happen, although not as regularly.

During a current dialogue over a measure that might prohibit the breeding of unlicensed canines and cats, pet banter and chuckles flowed. The invoice’s sponsor, State Senator José Menéndez, a San Antonio Democrat, referred to as the second bittersweet, and fleeting.

“It was one of the few light moments we’ve had,” Mr. Menéndez mentioned. “Everything else has been very contested, heated culture wars.”

Simon Romero and John Schwartz contributed reporting.



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