On Tuesday, April 16, the Texas Senate passed SB 346 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) by a 23-6 margin. Among other things, the bill extends political contribution and expenditure reporting requirements to certain persons or groups that do not meet the definition of a political committee. Specifically, the bill requires a person or group (including 501(c)(4) and (c)(6) business or trade associations) that accepts payments from donors or members, including membership dues payments, that the donors or members have reason to know may be used to make political contributions or expenditures or may be commingled with funds used to make political contributions or expenditures.
Yesterday Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) filed and passed SCR 33, which recalls SB 346 from the House. The resolution passed on a 21-10 vote. The House, however, refused to return the bill, referred it to the State Affairs Committee, and set a hearing for next Wednesday.
The old hands around here have never seen anything like this before. Generally bills are only recalled to correct errors, not to reconsider the vote by which they were passed. SCR 33, which was filed, laid out, and passed on the same day, did not proceed through the usual Senate process, potentially creating a precedent for future bills. The House appears to have interpreted the Senate’s action as out of order, which may explain why it ignored it altogether.
In any event, SB 346 will certainly draw a lot of attention in House committee next week. Stay tuned.