Betting on Gov. Greg Abbott reneging on his pledge to Texans to hold lawmakers accountable for obstructing his agenda, the Texas House fast tracked and gave initial approval to a bill that he explicitly told them not to pass.
House Bill 7 by State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) is a proposal for “tree planting credits to offset tree mitigation fees imposed by a municipality.” It’s also identical to a bill that Phelan passed during the regular session, SB 744, which was vetoed by Abbott in June. In a statement, Abbott said he was vetoing the bill because it “gives the imprimatur of state law to the municipal micromanagement of private property, which should be abolished altogether.”
“I believe we can do better for private property owners in the upcoming special session,” said Abbott.
Shortly after the special session began, Abbott removed any doubt on the specific bill language he wanted to pass–working with State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Canton) and State Rep. Paul Workman (R–Austin) on specific bills.
The Texas Senate quickly passed Hall’s bill, but House Speaker Joe Straus and his allies moved to obstruct Workman’s bill from passing in the House and advanced Phelan’s instead. That move, and other delays, spurred Abbott to come to the Texas House and speak to lawmakers directly, telling a gathering of them earlier this week that he would veto Phelan’s proposal should they pass it again and asking them to coauthor and support Workman’s bill.
A majority of Republican lawmakers, including House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker (R–Flower Mound) refused to coauthor Workman’s bill.
Such a rebuke by House Republicans reveals that they do not believe Abbott will make good on his promise to call them back for subsequent special sessions, they do not believe Abbott will actually hold those who obstruct his agenda accountable.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article referenced amendments to Phalen’s bill being blocked; that was not the case. The amendments were voluntarily withdrawn by the amendment authors. The article has been edited to reflect this change.