Keeping It Weird: Bills on the Fringe
Early bills show reliable signs of Texas Weird
The three biggest 84th session policy trends thus far are bills related to immigration, voting, and handguns. We don't have enough space in this issue to recount all of those bills – look to future issues – but be aware that "constitutional carry" is so hot right now. Legislators have also filed a variety of bills that attempt to define the 10th Amendment as fundamentally pro-states' rights, and a variety of current federal laws as in violation. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say on constitutional interpretation, so most of those bills, even if enacted, would be merely sound and fury.
On one fringe front, there may be a war looming against daylight saving time. Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, has filed HB 150, which would do away with the practice in Texas entirely. His House colleague, James White, R-Woodville, would take a more cautious approach: HB 363 would create the Texas Task Force on Daylight Saving Time, which would "study the efficacy of the continuation" of the practice. We've always wondered just how inconvenient it is to reset a clock twice a year.
White has already filed quite a few bills, and while some of them appear to be reasonable, HB 363 isn't the only head-scratcher. The East Texas lawmaker is still trying to make "covenant marriage" happen (HB 547). Three states enacted similar laws from 1997-2001, but the trend has since faded. He would also require 17-year-olds to get their parents' consent before being allowed to donate blood (HB 377) – we're curious to know which Texas demographic has been clamoring to make it harder for people to save lives.
Truly the strangest bill among the early filings is Rep. Ryan Guillen's (D-Rio Grande City) HB 223: It would protect from punishment children (grades K-5) who chew their pastries into gun shapes. Inspired, apparently, by the story of Maryland grade schooler Josh Welch, who was suspended in 2013 after chewing a Pop-Tarts pastry into the approximate shape of a gun, Guillen's bill would prohibit a school district from punishing a child for "brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm or weapon," among other things ("a crayon, pencil, pen, or other writing or drawing instrument" are some of the pretend-weapons that would be protected). While we applaud Guillen's effort to defend one aspect of free speech for small children, we have to ask, what about children who play with their food but don't pretend it's a weapon? Schools still get to punish them, right?