Dying in Committee - Mass Culls
It turns out that 150 House members can't be everywhere at once.
By Richard Whittaker,
1:28PM, Tue. May 8, 2007
Move carefully in the Lege this week, because you may be struck down by a fast-moving legislator, desperately trying to get to a committee. Any committee. Every committee. As everyone tries to get as much legislation moving to a floor vote as fast as possible, they find themselves booked for too many meetings or caught up in backroom dealings or too tired from the night before to get out of bed for those 8am public meetings.
End result? Less politically alluring committees end up devoid of members and do no business. So, for example, the House Public Education and Environmental Regulation committees this morning were both canceled when neither could get enough members together to be quorate.
The few members of Public Education that turned up shuffled papers for 45 minutes, until their chair, Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, admitted defeat. The assembled crowd, most of whom presumably wanted to testify on at least one of the 14 bills on the agenda, were told that the committee might reconvene after the session. Unless, that is, the House runs past 10pm, at which point they're going home.
Over in Environmental Regulation, a particularly unimpressed-looking chair, Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, noted that while committee member Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, had a good excuse (he was taking his dad to to doctor), everyone else must just have been getting over last night's long session on the floor. As soon as the House broke for lunch, he managed to rustle up just enough members for something that looked like quorate (two) and speed-read through a bunch of bills before he too had to sprint back to the chamber.
So it's good to know that these matters are getting a real and considered debate before they pass or fail.