Beyond “hell week” lawmakers weigh policy and political priorities

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Thursday, the clock struck midnight on hundreds of bills at the Texas Capitol. The bill deadline in the Texas House traditionally brings long hours and tense times for lawmakers.

Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) summed it up: “This is what I call hell week.”

But the biggest development of the week came before the bill deadline. “I think the most significant component of the legislative session was the death of the sales tax initiative,” said Texas Monthly senior editor Carlos Sanchez. Supporters of the measure in the House blamed Senators for killing the proposal that had the support of the state’s top leaders. “The bottom line is one of the top priorities for the big three, the Governor, Lt. Governor and speaker, it bit the dust this week,” Sanchez said.

Other priority legislation is still moving forward. “A lot of other big bills are in pretty good shape right now,” said Texas Tribune breaking news editor Matthew Watkins. He cited progress on the budget, school finance, and property tax legislation. “All of those have passed both chambers and are kind of inching toward the finish line,” Watkins said.

The question remains how to pay for those priority proposals over the long term.

“They are scaping under the cushions on the sofa. They are looking for every bit of money that they can,” explained Bob Garrett, the Dallas Morning News Austin bureau chief. The stakes are high for lawmakers who will soon face re-election campaigns. 

“The political imperative is next year, 2020, not funding this thing in 2024, 2028,” Garrett said. “They’re worried about now.”

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