A Texas lawmaker is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to add ethics reform to his special session call. Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) heads the House General Investigation and Ethics Committee, which is tasked with scrutinizing wrongdoing at the state level. Most recently, she led an investigation into the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after reports of misconduct and mismanagement of funds within the agency.
Davis advocates closing a loophole in state law that allows lawmakers and statewide officeholders to accept campaign contributions during a special session of the Legislature. Officials are not allowed to take campaign cash during a regular session.
Davis says she doesn't know whether Abbott will add the issue to the call.
"I figure if the governor is going to call me back up here to Austin to talk about what my local communities can do with their trees, then perhaps we could spend some time focusing on things like ethics reform or like providing therapy restorations for our disabled kids," she says.
Davis advocates restoration of money for special needs services that has been cut in previous budget cycles.
In response to Davis' legislation and another ethics bill filed by Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott, suggested the two legislators should focus on other issues instead.
“Instead of working to advance items on the special session agenda that could reform property taxes, fix school finance, increase teacher pay and reduce regulations, Reps. Davis and Larson are showboating over proposals that are not on the governor’s call. Their constituents deserve better,” Wittman says.
Davis says she also wants to close the “revolving door” through which many former legislators travel to lucrative positions as lobbyists after leaving office. She intends to file legislation that would impose a "cooling-off period" of one legislative session, during which they could not lobby.
Though Abbott advocated reform as this year’s regular session began, no ethics measures were included on the special session agenda.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.