One way pro-life Texans can set their expectations for the legislative session is by looking at the committee appointments in the House, which could come within the next several days.
Texas Right to Life executive director Elizabeth Graham this week wrote that with 94 Republicans considered pro-life, as well as five Democrats, there should be no shortage of qualified individuals to serve on key committees that consider life issues.
“That makes 99 pro-life votes out of 150 House members, or in other words, a pro-life super majority,” wrote Graham. “To reflect this pro-life majority and to govern according to the pro-life will of the House, House leadership should appoint design committees to facilitate the passing of pro-life bills.”
Graham noted that in the 2013 legislative session, not one “pro-life bill reached the House floor for a vote…despite overwhelming support” by pro-life members. According to Graham, this happened because of the committee chairs appointed by House Speaker Joe Straus. Pro-life measures only moved to the House floor after then-Gov. Rick Perry called two special sessions on the issue.
Tony McDonald, general counsel for Empower Texans, says that committee chairmen in the Texas House hold a great deal of power to stall legislation or undermine legislative initiatives.
According to Graham, pro-life legislation has a better chance of making its way to the House floor if the chairs of the Appropriations, State Affairs and Public Health committees all rate “100% or above” on the organization’s statewide scorecard.”
“All the legislative proposals to address these issues begin in committees, including protecting pregnant women and their tiny unborn Texans,” wrote Graham. “House leadership could endear themselves to the grassroots by moving moderates around and appointing new committee chairs and committee members to expedite the passage of a Pro-Life agenda.”
Absent the passage of pro-life priority legislation, Graham says that lawmakers should again be prepared for another series of special sessions going into the summer.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is a founding contributor to Breitbart Texas. He is the president of Empower Texans and can be found on Twitter @MQSullivan.