Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HB 602 and 660 Hearings Delayed

The public hearings at the Texas Capitol on House Bills 602 and 660 have been delayed until approximately 11:30am and 1pm today, respectively.

If you read my post about the hearings being this morning at 8:05am, and you took precious time out of your day to be there this morning, I apologize. As a long-time attendee of such hearings (my real-life job is political reporting), I should have known better than to suggest in that post that "
you shouldn't have to wait too long to speak." Legislators are trying to juggle a million things at once, so things change rapidly.

You may be frustrated that you couldn't stick around and put in your two cents on the bill, and wondering why this happened:
  • To deal with the conspiracy theorists among you: Yes, sometimes hearings get moved as a tactic to make it harder for people who want to testify for or against a bill. It's entirely possible this is what happened. However, since this bill is really pretty small change in the larger Lege world of budget deficits, school funding, health and human services, etc., I'm doubtful of this one.
  • The reason I was given, and the more likely one: The committee chair, Rep. Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, saw how many people wanted to testify, and knew they'd never get done before the House gavels into session at 10am. So he moved hearings until after the floor session is done so that testimony could go uninterrupted.
If you came to the Capitol this morning and left, I hope you can make it back. If you do, please bear in mind the lesson from this morning: Those announced hearing times are approximate. The actual resumption time will depend on how quickly the House gets its business done, and how long it takes the committee to deal with any other bills that come before it.

EDIT: I just thought of a couple more points to make:
  • If you intend to come back for the committee hearing and want to be there for the whole thing, I recommend you eat a good meal first, because they likely won't break for lunch between 602 and 660. The committee members usually just disappear into the back room to get some lunch, so they don't have to break. No food for you, though. I recommend the Capitol Cafeteria, which is just right up the stairs from the committee hearing room.
  • If you want to watch the hearing from home, you may do so by going here. You'll need RealPlayer software installed to view the streaming video. It's free. Look for the Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures. If you want to watch it later, go down to "Archived Broadcasts" and click on "Recent Committee Broadcasts."

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