AUSTIN, Texas - The 85th session of the Texas Legislature came to a dramatic end Monday with shoving on the House floor and, shouts from protesters in the gallery.
The confrontation on the House floor, with shoving and what appeared to be some punching was triggered Monday after a comment was made by Representative Matt Rinaldi. It was directed toward Eagle Pass Democrat Poncho Nevarez who later admitted his reaction triggered the wrong kind of floor fight.
"Of course you don’t want things like that to happen on the House floor, but guys like him think they can say anything they want without impunity and at some point there is going to be repercussion and a reckoning, and I think he bears responsibility for that,” said Rep. Nevarez.
The incident was prompted by an earlier outburst in the House gallery. Protesters from as far away as California and New York, were bused into Austin to voice opposition to SB 4. They were kicked out a little late in the game. The legislation which bans local communities from enacting sanctuary city policies was signed into law almost a month ago.
A few minutes after troopers cleared the gallery and after the initial scuffle on the floor there was another brief flair up involving Rep. Rinaldi. House Democrats, during a news conference claimed that’s when the Republican from Irving made a dangerous threat. State Rep. Justin Rodriguez repeated what he claims he heard.
"I'll put a bullet in your head. In his direction,” said Rodriguez who was pointing in the direction of Rep. Nevarez.
Representative Rinaldi responded to the accusation on social media. He stated that he was threatened first by Nevarez and claims the threat was that Nevarez would “get him” as he went to his car. Rinaldi admitted he said he'd shoot his colleague but only in self-defence. In response to that Rep. Nevarez posted that Rep. Rinaldi is a liar.
The session ended with a request for a house investigation and a cheer from the members that the day was over.
The confrontation on the House floor, in a way, sums up how this entire session has gone. A little tense, a little volatile. The list of what was done includes;
- $217 billion budget.
-Sanctuary cities ban.
- Upgrades for CPS & mental health.
- State-wide texting ban.
-Sandra Bland Act.
-Voter ID fix.
-Crackdown cyber bullying.
-More enforcement on improper relationships between teachers and students.
Issues left undone include;
-Property Tax Rollback.
-Union Dues from pay checks.
In closing out the state senate Lt. Governor Dan Patrick indicated a special session may be called to address social conservative issues that he wants addressed, like the Bathroom bill. But Governor Greg Abbott had this to say about that to the leadership under the dome.
"If we have a special session, convening only on the topics I choose, and at the time of my choosing,” said Governor Abbott.
It’s believed a Special Session eventually will have to be called, but not necessarily for controversial topics like who should use which bathroom. The senate did not clear a basic but important housekeeping bill to keep several agencies open. Those agencies include; the State Medical Board, as well as examiner boards for social workers, psychologist, counsellors and therapists.