May 8, 2017

Legislative Update – May 8, 2017

by Shannon Meroney, President, Meroney Public Affairs


On Thursday, the Texas House joined the Senate in voting to call for an Article V Convention of States, making Texas the 11th of the 34 states needed to call a constitutional convention to rein in the power of the federal government.

In his State of the State address in January, Gov. Greg Abbott made the call for a Convention of States one of four emergency items. On its passage, the governor tweeted, “BOOM. Texas has now passed a Convention of States Resolution. Thank you Texas House for today’s vote.”

Senate Joint Resolution 2, which passed on a 94-51 vote, doesn’t require the governor’s signature.

Under SJR 2, the convention Texas is seeking would be limited to considering amendments expressly “for the limited purpose of proposing one or more amendments to the Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and to limit the terms of office of federal officials and members of Congress.”

That conforms with what the 10 other states have delineated in their calls for a convention, according to Tamara Colbert, spokeswoman for the Texas campaign.


The bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

After the Texas House approved Senate Bill 4 after an emotional 16-hour debate, the Senate, which had already passed its own version, on Wednesday voted 20-11 along party lines to approve the House’s modifications, averting the need for a joint committee to hash out the differences between the two chambers’ versions.

At the beginning of the legislative session, Abbott said banning sanctuary cities, the common term for local jurisdictions that decline in some way to assist federal immigration enforcement, was one of his priorities for lawmakers.

SB 4 by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, imposes stiff penalties on local governments and officials who lead local police forces that restrict when officers can inquire about subjects’ immigration status and on county jails that don’t cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “detainer” requests, meant to facilitate deportation proceedings for inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, attempted to soften the bill after it was passed by the Senate, but the lower chamber ended up making it tougher when it adopted amendments proposed by tea party-aligned legislators.

Although the bill is almost across the finish line, Democrats aren’t giving up their staunch opposition. Two dozen bill opponents, including Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and Austin Community College Trustee Julie Ann Nitsch, were arrested Monday after an all-day, sit-in protest in the lobby of a state office building that houses some of the governor’s staff offices.