Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hostage crisis: Raise-the-age bill dies if Dem chubbing kills gay marriage super ban

After an inexplicable delay, Texas' "raise the age" legislation increasing the age of adult criminal culpability from 17 to 18 years old was placed on a House floor calendar with remarkable alacrity. Formally, it's on Tuesday's calendar, but they'd need to hoof it to get to the bill even by Wednesday. As of this writing, Thursday appears more likely.

Here's the rub, though: The bill in question, HB 1205, sits 10 bills behind HB 4105 banning gay marriage, which of course is already banned in Texas. I guess we're going to Extra-Ban it, or maybe place it on Double-Secret Probation.

Democrats plan a major floor fight, reported the Austin Statesman, and rumors are flying around the capitol that they may begin "chubbing" - or dragging out debate to kill bills further down the calendar - in hopes that they'll never get to HB 4105.

That would mean they'd never get to the raise-the-age bill, which the Calendars Committee placed as a hostage just behind the gay-marriage train wreck to give Dems an incentive to keep moving bills. (To raise the ante for your correspondent, even further down the calendar there are a couple of modest reform bills on the Driver Responsibility surcharge - HB 1795 by Turner and HB 2671 by Thompson - which represent the main, extant reform options on the topic this session.)

My preference: Dems needn't and shouldn't chub. Propose a few choicely worded amendments to get everybody on the record and move on to the bills they really care about. Trust the US Supreme Court and the tide of history to take care of the gay marriage issue. Instead, focus legislative efforts on topics the state can actually do something about.

Raise-the-age would be a big get for Dems. OTOH, in light of shifting public opinion, Republicans re-banning gay marriage is tantamount to a dog catching a car. They're pandering to their current base at the expense of a future one. And as a practical matter, it changes nothing. So who cares?

Grits' advice to Dems thinking about chubbing: Let the dog catch the car then get some business done.

UPDATE: Dems decide to kill the hostages.


sunray's wench said...

I don't understand. If something is already banned, why is there another bill to do the same thing?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@sw: Because most of this batch of R legislators didn't get to vote for it when they banned gay marriage a decade ago. So they hold another vote so this bunch can vote for it, too.

It's sort of analogous to the US House of Representatives voting to repeal Obamacare dozens of times.

Also, the US Supreme Court is considering a pivotal gay marriage case and they're trying to get out in front of it by pre-snubbing the court, which is expected to rule for gay marriage.

Actually, it's all rather silly and pointless. But the base wants red meat. So they're giving it to them.

Anonymous said...

Parliamentary inquiry????
Sick of hearing that during this session.

Anonymous said...

It is bs. Good bills gonna die because of their bs. They need to stay 4 years to get it all adressed. There is not enough time for these games.

Unknown said...

Very well-expressed, as usual, Grits.
Thank you for insightful reporting and opinion.