Austin. A new rule passed by the Texas House on Wednesday provides for fines and possibly expulsion of members if they walk out of session again.
The rule is a response to House Democrats last session’s decision to violate a quorum to stop controversial voting laws from being passed.
Democrats also fled the state for Washington, D.C. in July 2021 to try again to stop state lawmakers from passing new voting laws. This move stopped the passage of the law due to the lack of a quorum.
Now, if a member is found to be “absent without permission to interfere with activities at home,” they may be subject to one or more penalties, including a fine of $500 per day of absence. Members are also prohibited from using money from their office account or campaign funds to cover fines. Other punishments include reprimand, censure and exile, the new rule says.
Amendment passed 87–59.
During the 2021 quorum break, Democrats left the state for approximately six weeks. If the new rule went into effect, every outgoing MP would face a $21,000 fine.
State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, who spearheaded the rule change, made it clear that this only applies to those who interfere with work taking place on the floor of the House of Representatives, and that it must be a deliberate act to interfere with House procedures. He added that he considered it the duty of the elected members to come and work.