Last week we continued to work for the passage of SB 929, the Tim Tebow Bill, out of the House Public Education Committee since the deadline was Saturday at midnight to pass Senate bills out of the House. About midweek I spoke directly with Chairman Aycock, who had thus far refused to allow a vote on this bill.
When he asked me how I was, I said, “You tell me. Are you going to let our UIL bill out of committee?”
He then told me that HB 1374 (the House version of the bill) was dead, and I said yes, but SB 929 (the Senate version) was still available for a vote in his committee. When he told me that we did not have the votes, I said that was not my understanding, to which he responded that some did not want to vote on the bill. I told him he should tell them to “man up” and vote. He said he would not do that as chairman, which is a kind way of saying, “I’m not going to allow a vote on your bill.”
On Friday Representative James Frank, who has been working on this bill as if it were his own, asked the speaker of the House to speak to Aycock about the bill. Aycock then told Frank that he would allow a vote if I would give him a written document, on THSC letterhead with my signature, giving him credit for passing the bill out of his committee and assuring that THSC would not “retaliate” against any legislator who voted against the bill or “walked the vote in committee.” (“Walking the vote” is the practice of leaving during the vote to avoid registering a vote for or against a bill.) This was a tacit acknowledgment that we did indeed have enough votes to get the bill out of committee.
Although I was in San Antonio at a home school conference on Friday, we drafted the statement Aycock had given us and presented it to him. And although he was not happy, he moved to suspend the House rules to allow the Public Education Committee to meet that evening at 7 p.m. At the meeting, although a quorum was present, two of our supporters had already left town because the House was not in session on Saturday. No vote was taken because we were one vote short of the six votes needed. As some have noted, if Chairman Aycock had really wanted the bill to pass, he could have asked someone on the committee to vote “yes” just to get the bill to the floor. Obviously, he did not do so.
Saturday was the last day for a Senate bill to pass the Texas House. While time is slipping away, we still have a bill or two in the Senate that we could amend with our SB 929 language. Stay tuned. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!