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Texas Matters: State Open Government Bills Get A Lifeline

David Martin Davies

With about two weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers are entering the phase when bills start to wither and die. Thursday was a critical deadline in the state house which was made all the more deadly when Tea Party-aligned lawmakers, who groused that they were being punished for petty personal politics, engaged in running out the clock maneuvers which would kill lots of bills. Meanwhile, it was the artful parliamentary maneuvers in the Texas Senate that saved a slew of bills that provide open government.

Senator Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat, used an amendment process to graft the troubled freedom of information bills to HB 2328 by Representative Eddie Lucia (D) of Brownsville. So these key bills move on to the full house.

But there should be questions about how is it that open government bills can find lip service support from many law makers but in the shadows under the pink dome many turn off the oxygen. It doesn’t always take action to kill bills in Austin – just creative inaction.

Kelly Shannon is the executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the public’s right to know, free speech and a free press.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi