Special Session Update: Dues Deduction Bill Passes Senate

Posted on 7/27/17

As anticipated, the Senate has quickly passed most of Gov. Greg Abbott’s conservative agenda items, including Senate Bill 7, a bill that would prohibit most but not all public employees from paying dues to a union or professional association via payroll deduction. Although the bill’s author, Sen. Bryan Hughes, and supporters say the bill is anti-union, SB 7 as written exempts first-responder groups with national labor union affiliations while negatively affecting TPEA, a nonunion, nonpartisan, Texas-only membership association.

The bill passed the Senate 19-12 on second reading late July 25, with the Senate immediately reconvening after midnight July 26 to pass SB 7 and several other bills on third reading. Sen. Robert Nichols was the only Republican to vote against the bill. Senators debated the bill for more than two hours, with Sen. Royce West and others asking author Sen. Bryan Hughes an extended series of questions about his definition of “first responder,” which leaves out public employees who place themselves in danger every day (e.g., correctional officers, CPS workers and more).

The bill now heads to the House, where its future is uncertain. Legislation with the same objective failed to pass the House in both the 2015 and 2017 regular sessions, where legislators are concerned about potential inequities and the lack of rational delineation between exempt and nonexempt groups. TPEA lobbyists and board members are meeting with House members to continue expressing our concerns with the bill.

The bill’s House companion, HB 156 by Rep. Jason Isaac, has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.