The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Austin and The Woodlands – On Thursday, August 5, 2021, State Representative Steve Toth (Republican of The Woodlands) announced he had filed House Bill 310 and would refile it in the second special session to penalize lawmakers who abandon their official duties. HB 310 would remove a habitually absent Representative or Senator from office by declaring the legislator’s position vacant. Specifically, the bill applies to lawmakers who miss their legislative work for seven consecutive days without a leave of absence.
“Here’s your preview of legislation I will be filing in the second special session,” said Rep. Toth. “The Democrats need to be held accountable for quitting on their constituents. Democrats just wasted a special session and the $1 million it costs the taxpayers. Their taxpayer-funded junket to DC is a despicable example of choosing self-promotion over public service.”
Toth filed the same bill in the first Special Session. House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, failed even to refer the legislation to a committee for consideration.
The bill would add Section 301.074 of the Texas Government Code to read:
Sec. 301.074. VACANCY DUE TO EXCESSIVE ABSENCE. A member of the legislature vacates the member’s office if the member is absent from all proceedings of the house of the legislature of which the person is a member, without a leave of absence granted by that house, for seven consecutive days on which that house meets.
Democrats fled the Texas House of Representatives during the first Special Session, which began on July 8, 2021, and ended on August 7, 2021, in order to defeat the 2/3rds quorum requirement for houses of the Texas Legislature contained in the Texas Constitution. Article III, Section 10 of the Texas Constitution provides:
Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.
During the first Special Session, sufficient Democrats remained in the Texas Senate to conduct business there. The Senate passed all of the legislation in Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s call for a Special Session with the exceptions of true property tax reform and funding of the Legislative Branch of the Texas government, which such latter matter must originate in the Texas House of Representatives.
The Democrats fled the Special Session in order to prevent election integrity legislation from passing the Texas Legislature. They succeeded in preventing the passage of the election integrity legislation during the Regular Session of the 87th Texas Legislature with the same maneuver of busting the quorum by having more than 50 Democrats disappear from the State Capitol.
Steve Toth is a small business owner representing South Montgomery County in the Texas House of Representatives. Representative Toth has a strong conservative voting record. He serves on the Appropriations Committee, which determines the State Budget. He has been a contributor on CNN, Fox News, Fox Business News, Newsmax, OANN, Real America’s Voice News, and KTRH.