There he goes again. Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) was up to his old antics two Fridays ago. Reminiscent of last session’s Mother’s Day Massacre by him and his friends in the House Freedom Caucus, Stickland used procedural tactics to stall several bills. He sent four bills from the local and consent calendar, uncontroversial bills that typically get passed uncontested, back to committee.
Stickland announced his intention to kill the bills by telling the presiding officer, “I intend to speak for 10 minutes on this bill.”
Among the bills killed included two mental health bills for Texas school children, one of the six emergency items identified by the Governor for the session.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Chair of the House Public Health Committee, authored a bill proposing the creation of a mental health task force to study and evaluate existing mental health services for Texas’ 5.4 million students and provide recommendations.
The second bill aims to prevent suicides of minors by helping those with severe emotional problems whose parents fail to seek mental health care for them.
Later, Stickland said he had problems with the bills, but did not articulate his objections on the House floor. Instead, he spoke slowly, read the bills out loud (s l o w l y…), and otherwise used ten minutes to remove the bills from consideration.
Stickland was repeatedly warned by Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody (D-El Paso) to remain germane to the bill in question and to not read the bill in his speech as it was “dilatory.”
At one point, he even read out loud word-for-word a Texas Tribune article, which Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) handed to him saying “here’s a damn article for you to read” when Stickland was running out of things to say.
The bills were not read consecutively, and in between, Stickland hovered around the back mic, leading to some consternation among his colleagues when they were presenting their bills.
In a tweet prior to the House legislative session that day, he claimed he “had questions” but never once asked questions of the authors. When asked to yield for questions regarding his opposition to bills, Stickland refused. His bluster was not inconsequential.
Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), chairwoman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee and the author of one of the four bills killed by Stickland, told the Dallas News Stickland had given her a list of bills he objected to the day prior, however, it arrived after the calendars were already set. She also said her committee, which the bills return to, will have to decide whether to place them on the calendar again or send them to the general calendar, where they would go through the regular process of debate.
Stickland’s antics run contrary to his promise from prior to session to “try a little more honey than vinegar” and reminds us that sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.