DALLAS — After the demise of the election reform bill -- Senate Bill 7 -- in the Texas House following the Democratic walkout, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the leader of the Senate, said the clock ran out on the House because it was “managed poorly.”
Speaker of the House Dade Phelan said he hasn’t talked to Patrick since his comment. But Phelan did say he absolutely disagrees with the lieutenant governor. In fact, the speaker said the Senate tied their hands in the House by getting them the revised legislation so late in the game, which meant the House couldn’t take up the bill until hours before the deadline.
“It had many errors in it. The Elections Committee found 10 to 12 points of order in it, which is what kills the bill. So we had to completely redraft it,” Speaker Phelan said on Inside Texas Politics. “It was not the House’s fault. To say the clock ran out? No. Clock management was not a problem in the House.”
At least one of those “errors” has become a national topic of discussion over the last several days.
SB 7 would have, among other things, delayed early voting on Sundays until 1 p.m., which critics say specifically attacked African American voting efforts known as “Souls to the Polls,” when Black voters cast a ballot before or after church.
But in recent days, Republicans have said that time change was a “typo” and the time should have read 11 a.m.
The speaker said it’s not unusual for errors to occur in bills. He said in this particular piece of legislation, equal was also misspelled a couple of times. The Republican said they will have plenty of time to address typos, errors or omissions when they meet again during an expected special session.
He also doesn’t think there will be any lingering animosity between the two sides, saying “we move past these issues rather quickly.” But he does admit his bigger concern is not necessarily the Democratic walkout itself, but the other legislation the move sacrificed.
“There were some healthcare reform bills, some criminal justice reform bills, a great mental health bill also on the calendar that did not pass," said Phelan. "And unfortunately, I don’t think that will be on the special sessions, so we lost those opportunities.”