Landgraf pushes rule to prevent politician walkouts

AUSTIN State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) announced on Wednesday a joint-authored House Resolution 4 to amend the House Rules to hold responsible elected officials in the Texas House of Representatives who walk out on the job to stall legislative proceedings.

“The Texas House of Representatives is a deliberative legislative body that operates under strict deadlines in order to preserve taxpayer dollars and prevent over-regulation,” Landgraf stated in the press release. “During the summer of 2021, a few members of the Texas House held the entire state hostage, wasting state resources and violating their constitutional responsibilities in order to prevent the legislature from conducting its business for the people of Texas.”

The Texas Constitution requires at least two-thirds of members to be present in order for the Texas House and Senate to conduct business during a legislative session.

In 2021, Texas House Democrats broke quorum twice to prevent the legislature from being able to vote on pending election integrity legislation. During the second quorum break of 2021, Democrats remained out-of-state for nearly a month while the legislature was in special session.

“I voted to arrest the quorum-busting members in 2021 because that was the only real solution offered by the House Rules to compel absent members to return,” Landgraf stated in the press release. “These changes made by HR 4 give us some real teeth for the next time a group of members attempts to achieve a legislative outcome by breaking quorum rather than having open public debates on pressing policy matters as required by the constitution and expected by the people of this great state.”

In 2021, Landgraf and 79 other members of the Texas House voted to authorize the civil arrest of the members of the House who abandoned their posts. But the absent members were out-of-state, outside of the jurisdiction of Texas law enforcement agencies. House Resolution 4 amends the Texas House Rules to allow for members who are absent without leave for the purpose of impeding the action of the House to be reprimanded, censured, expelled, and fined $500 per day that the member is absent.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 88th Texas Legislative Session on Jan. 10, 2023. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.