Members of the 84th Legislature rode off into the sunset on June 1, leaving plenty of memorable moments on the trail behind them.
The fastest-moving part of the legislative session was often the House’s consideration of what insiders call the “Local and Consent Calendar,” an itinerary of uncontested and narrow pieces of legislation which are quickly taken up and approved.
But if a lawmaker wanted to knock one of these bills off of the fast-moving calendar, all they had to do was talk for 10 minutes. Here’s where ‘pro forma’ (mere formality) and ‘parliamentary procedure’ (have you heard of Robert’s Rules of Order?) would occasionally collide.
For example, Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) attempted to kill a bill and made clear his aim to pontificate for the full 10. But the bill’s author, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and chairwoman of the Local and Consent Calendar Committee, met his intention with piercing stares and stiff words. “You can talk from now until Jerusalem comes and opens up and closes again,” Thompson said.
Then there’s the vocal Rep. Johnathan Stickland (R-Bedford), in his second term. Stickland was noted throughout the session for his lapel pin–a semiautomatic rifle. At one time, he had posted a sign on his office door reading “Former Fetus.” Stickland was a fixture at the back mic of the House this session, challenging his colleagues’ bills and often attempting, somewhat in vain, to tack his own stalled legislation onto other measures.
But aside from all the flair and fisticuffs, what led to the most unusual and indelible exchanges crept out in the wee hours.
Amid a 17-hour budget debate in the House, Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) challenged Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman), who had proposed shifting $3 million from HIV and STD prevention programs to pay for sexual abstinence education.
A discussion of when, and to whom, Spitzer lost his virginity ensued.
But when it came to off-the-wall exchanges, lawmakers proved nothing was off-limits. The winner? Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio): “I don’t think any one of us is doing any kind of drugs today, by the way. I’m willing to go take a piss test right now.”