The end of the Texas Legislature’s 140-day Regular Legislative Session every two years is full of increasing tension over whether bills pass or not.
Sort of like the Oklahoma land rushes of the 19th Century: many wagons started the ever-tightening funnel to the final deadline gate to win some land.
The also-rans didn’t, or would have to make another try more than a year later — perhaps with an altered wagon, or strategy — or give up trying.
The May 31 adjournment for the 140-day session is rapidly approaching, and with it, the death of bills that haven’t already cleared the ever-rising hurdles.
Meanwhile, politics who want to stay in the game, and those who want to move up, are gearing up.
Thus, you see Gov. Greg Abbott traveling to Sugar Land, to condemn attacks on Asians, or another region of the state on another topic — to look active, and keep his name identification high.
Guv gets GOP challenger
Abbott on May 10 drew a challenge from the right in the 2022 GOP primary from former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines.
From a wealthy car dealer and real estate family, Huffines was a senator, from 2015 to 2019. He was beaten for reelection in 2018 by Democrat Nathan Johnson.
Huffines charges Abbott was too slow to reopen businesses dealing with the pandemic.
“Texas deserves actual Republican leadership that will act urgently and decisively — no more excuses or lies,” Huffines said.
Huffines vowed bolder action on border security, property taxes and elections.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, presiding officer of the Texas Senate since 2015, has announced for a third four-year term in 2022.
On May 10, he touted his reelection endorsement by former President Donald Trump.
“Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick is a great fighter for the people of Texas,” Trump wrote. “Texans should reelect him! He is outstanding and has my complete and total endorsement!”
Trump had endorsed Patrick’s reelection in 2018. Patrick chaired Trump’s Texas campaigns in 2016 and 2020.
Patrick said he was “honored” to have Trump’s endorsement.
He said he and Trump had become “good friends” as Patrick led Trump’s campaigns in Texas.
Democrat Mike Collier, who ran against Patrick in 2018, and lost by about 5 percent, is again challenging him.
Collier noted that both Trump and Patrick’s margins in Texas were considerably tighter than their previous elections, as Texas trends back in a Democratic direction.
“The math is clear: Dan Patrick and Donald Trump’s extremist politics is why Texas will flip in 2022,” Collier said in a statement. “As we say in Texas, that dog don’t hunt.”
Stiffer state voting-law coaching?
Is it a coincidence that virtually every Republican-led state is working to make voting more difficult?
In a private meeting April 22 in Tucson, a recording of which was obtained by Mother Jones magazine, an executive of Heritage Action for America told a group of big-money conservative donors that they have been coaching legislators on how to do it.
Jessica Anderson, executive director of a sister organization of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the Georgia state voter bill had eight key provisions her group had recommended, the magazine reported.
Those “best practices” included severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.
“With Heritage’s help,” Anderson said, “Georgia became ‘the example for the rest of the country,’” the magazine reported.
“The leaked video reveals the extent to which Heritage is leading a massive campaign to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access, which has been swiftly adopted this year in the battleground states of Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa,” Mother Jones reported.
“It’s no coincidence that so many GOP-controlled states are rushing to pass similar pieces of legislation in such a short period of time.”
Washington insiders have been pushing these voting restrictions for decades, trying to help Republicans win elections.
But now, Trump’s baseless claims about 2020 have given them the ammunition to get the bills passed, and the conservative movement, led by Heritage, is making an unprecedented investment to get them over the finish line, the magazine reported.
Anderson said her group is working with state legislators to be sure they have the information needed to draft the bills.
And in some cases, Anderson said, they’ve also hired state lobbyists “to make sure that in these targeted states we’re meeting with the right people,” Mother Jones reported.