A proposal to raise the annual vehicle registration fee by $15 a year, more for pickups, has died in the Legislature, as the deadline passed Thursday night at midnight for bills which have not been passed by one chamber to be debated by the other, 1200 WOAI news reports.
State Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) spent an hour as the clock was ticking down, pleading with lawmakers to approve the registration fee increase, claiming it was needed to build more non toll highways across the state.
But his fellow Republicans blocked the bill, saying the last thing Texans need now is higher taxes, and pointed out that Gov. Perry has vowed to veto any measure which includes higher taxes.
The 'witching hour' measure is established to move bills along in the final days of the session. Lawmakers are required to adjourn after 140 days, which will be May 29th, so after 13 days before the end of the session, the Senate can only debate bills which have passed in the House, and vice versa.
Among the other measures which died when the clock struck midnight included almost all casino gambling bills, and bills allowing handguns to be carried on college campuses are not technically dead, but will not be allowed to come out of a Senate committee. A bill to vastly expand the number of charter schools in the state is also believed to be dead.
Many lawmakers engaged in a practice known as 'chubbing,' in which they waste time on meaningless bills specifically to prevent bills they don't want from coming to the floor. Lawmakers spent a half an hour flying a tiny 'drone' airplane through the House chamber as they debated bills restricting private use of drones. That bill did pass.
Also the underbrush must be cleared out to open the way for discussion of several key measures, from the budget, to a hotly debated bill that would tap the 'Rainy Day fund' to pay for road and water projects. Governor Perry has vowed to call a special session unless a suitable amount of Rainy Day Fund cash is allocated for those projects.
It is conceivable that some of the dead bills could rise again as amendments to other pieces of legislation, but that is considered unlikely, especially with major bills like casino gambling.