HB1348, the Smith/Eiland campaign finance reform bill, still gets no respect.
All 63 members of the House Democratic caucus have signed on as co-authors of the bill, as have 30 of the 87 House Republicans, the Democrats announced. But Democrats are worried that the House Republican leadership under Speaker Tom Craddick is allowing the bill to languish in committee.
"Time is getting of the essence," said the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston. "If this does not get moving soon and fast then the time clock, which I call the invisible hand of government that leaves no fingerprints, may be able to kill it."
Craddick acknowledged that when elected speaker in 2003 he promised that he would not bottle up legislation that had broad support in committee. But Craddick said he did not know how many members had signed on in support of the legislation.
"I didn't even know how many co-sponsors there were to the bill. Rather than having a press conference they ought to have said something to us," he said.
House Elections Chairwoman Mary Denny, R-Aubrey, said she has not held up Eiland's bill, but set a hearing for it in the order that bills were referred to her committee.
"It's being heard in the order it came in. That's the best we can do," she said. "Everybody's bill is important to them."
The bill is getting a hearing today in a subcommittee of the House Elections Committee, but only 27 days remain before House bills become ineligible for preliminary debate before the full chamber.
Denny said the full elections committee is unlikely to take a vote on Eiland's bill before the week after next.