By Betsy Stukes, HRI Summer Legal Intern & J.D. Candidate, The University of Texas School of Law
Though the House Committee on State Affairs was scheduled to hear and vote on SB 9 and HB 9 (“Sanctuary Cities” legislation) this morning, the committee postponed its “pending business” until Monday morning. If the committee votes the legislation to the House floor for debate, the bills must go to Calendars Committee next to be placed on the full chamber’s schedule. Then the bills may go to the House floor for debate and voting. Most likely, the bills will not be heard by the floor before Tuesday, if they are heard at all. This special session ends on Wednesday, so the bills must be heard and voted on before then if they are to pass into law during this special session.
Because HB 9 still would need to be heard by the Senate, this bill does not have enough time to pass into law during this session, but if SB 9 (HB 9’s nearly identical sister bill) is heard by the House, it is very likely to pass. Movement on the Sanctuary Cities legislation has been slower than expected. However, earlier this week, Governor Perry threatened to call another special session if the Legislature does not address certain issues, including (but not limited to) the Sanctuary Cities legislation. He is authorized to call another 30-day special session, during which he must designate again what issues the Texas Legislature will hear. Though it is not guaranteed, it is likely that he would place Sanctuary Cities on the agenda if he calls for a second special session.
Because this special session started immediately following the regular session of the Legislature, Senators and Representatives seem to be exhausted. On Monday, the Texas House had fewer than 100 Representatives present, so the House had to shut down operations and reconvene on Tuesday morning because 100 Representatives (out of 150 Representatives total) are required present to make a quorum. Still, some members of the House believe that they will vote on everything that is necessary by the end of this special session on Wednesday.