House Republicans Rack Up Wins in Fights
with Menaces They Manufacture to Conquer
May 23, 2023
Texas House Republicans lawmakers escalated fights on issues they've invented with votes on Tuesday for bills that would eliminate college tenure in its current form and ban the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions by local governments.
The House set up a possible showdown with the upper chamber when it gave the covid mandate blockade final approval in a vote of 87-60 for Senate Bill 29 that featured all of the Republicans and three Democratic colleagues on the winning side.
With GOP State Rep. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville as the chief House sponsor, the Republicans brushed off warnings from Democrats on the disaster they could be sowing by eliminating the ability of cities and counties to require masks and vaccines in the event of a resurgence.
Lozano said the bill would give Governor Greg Abbott the ability to end a statewide disaster declaration that's barred local covid mandates like those the legislation would outlaw. Texas is the only state in the U.S. with a gubernatorial decree for the health crisis still in effect. There's nothing in SB 29 that would force Abbott to lift the order like he's implied that he'd do if it passed.
Lozano argued that covid lockdowns and business closures had been devastating to the state and local economies. But the Republicans declined to acknowledge during the SB 29 debate that Abbott had been responsible for the lion's share of covid restrictions in the Lone Star State during the pandemic's early stages in 2020. They cast local officials as the lingering threat that's spawned the need for Abbott's ongoing edict and SB 29.
"We are setting ourselves up," Democratic State Rep. Gene Wu of Houston warned in a highly-compelling argument against the bill that failed to turn a single vote.
The House followed up the covid mandates ban with an 83-61 vote for Senate Bill 18 on third reading as a plan that would weaken tenure for professors in public higher education. State Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston sided with the Republicans as the only Democrat to break ranks on SB 18.
Democratic State Reps. Tracy King of Uvalde, Richard Raymond of Laredo and Dutton voted with the Republicans on the covid mandates prohibition that Republican State Senator Brian Birdwell of Granbury authored in SB 29 and guided through the east wing in early April.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hatched the tenure elimination plan in SB 18 as a measure of retaliation against professors who he's accused of peddling critical race theory in Texas colleges and universities with no real evidence to support the claims. But the watered-down proposal that emerged from the House today would simply end the automated granting of tenure based on longevity and give university governing boards and chancellors the power to reward and to regulate it.
more to come ...