Texas Legislature

Lt. Gov. Patrick Wants Quorum Rules Changed After House Democrats Walk Out

After Texas Democrats break quorum, the Republican lieutenant governor wants to change the rules to prevent it from happening again

dan patrick
NBC 5 News

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is asking Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to add an item to a future special session that would allow state lawmakers to take up changing quorum rules.

Patrick's request comes after Texas House Democrats broke quorum this week to prevent voting on an elections bill they say is veiled voter suppression. Republicans challenge the Democrats' position and say the bill only strengthens the integrity of elections in the state while expanding options for voters.

"I am asking him to add changing the quorum requirement to the call," Patrick tweeted. "Should be simple majority plus one, like it is in most states to stop outrageous behavior by Dems."

The House rules currently say "two-thirds of the House shall constitute a quorum to do business."

The Texas House is comprised of 150 members, each elected to a two-year term. Under the current rules, to have two-thirds present would be 100 members in the House chamber. A "majority plus one rule" would lower the number of members needed to have a quorum to 76 members. The current makeup of the House membership is 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats.

It would still require a quorum in a regular or special session and a majority vote to change the state's rules on quorums. According to the House Rules Manual for the 87th Legislative Session, rules governing any amendments to the rules can be found on page 241. That entry is below.

(a) Amendments to the rules of the house shall be proposed by house resolutions which shall be referred at once, without debate, to the Committee on House Administration for study and recommendation.
(b) A resolution proposing an amendment to the rules shall not be considered by the house until a printed copy of the resolution has been provided to each member of the house at least 48 hours before consideration.
(c) Amendments to the rules shall require a majority vote of the house for adoption.

Meanwhile, Texas Democrats continue lobbying for federal voting legislation in the nation's capital that would trump state laws. Abbott has called for the absent lawmakers to be arrested once they return to Texas and cabined at the Capitol so the special session could resume. Democrats said earlier this week they're prepared to stay in Washington, D.C. through the end of the special session on Aug. 6.

The governor, who can call as many special sessions as he likes, has said he'll continue to call special sessions until the mid-term elections in November 2022 if necessary to get his agenda passed.

Abbott has not said publicly if he intends to add quorum rules to future special sessions.

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