Shelby Slawson Doesn't Deserve To Be On The House Committee On State Affairs
Representative Shelby Slawson shows us why there is a need for committee integrity.
On Monday, 10/16, the House Committee on State Affairs met twice. The first time, they met for almost five hours. The second time, for two hours. So, they were there for about seven hours. And nearly the entire time, Shelby Slawson stared down at her phone.
When bills were being introduced, Shelby Slawson was staring at her phone. When witnesses were up testifying, Shelby Slawson was staring at her phone. And Shelby Slawson was staring at her phone when legislation was being discussed.
Occasionally, she’d put her phone down and look up for around a minute, but it wasn’t long before she was picking up her phone again.
You can see for yourself on the House Video Archives from the State Affair hearings on 10/16. I also made a Twitter thread showing clips of her on her phone every 15 to 30 minutes (but I gave up on it after three hours).
Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, right? Maybe she was fighting with her boyfriend, or perhaps something was happening with one of her kids.
As chance would have it, the House Committee on State Affairs met again on Thursday, 10/19. This time, they met for over five hours. While Slawson seemed to be on her phone less during this hearing, she was still on her phone for a considerable amount of time.
During House and Senate Committee hearings, legislators check their phones, text, and email, and then usually put their phones back in their pockets. It’s not a big deal, and they don’t appear as if they aren’t paying attention. But in the years I have been watching the Texas Legislature, only one other time have I ever seen a lawmaker spend the entire hearing on their phone the way Slawson has this week.
The only other instance that comes to mind was when a video of Nate Schatzline wearing a dress went viral, making national headlines. On that day, Schazline, much like Slawson, remained engrossed in his phone during the hearing.
However, unlike Schazline, Slawson’s phone usage was unlikely to be related to national news or any urgent matter. The reason she was so engrossed in her phone those two days was likely something personal.
The Texas House Committee on State Affairs is critical in the legislative process.
This committee is one of the most important and influential within the Texas House, and the decisions and recommendations on this committee significantly impact the legislative landscape.
Some might argue that attending these committees is a mere formality for certain lawmakers, as their positions may be predetermined before the meetings. However, basic respect and engagement should be expected from all committee members.
Shelby Slawson was incredibly disrespectful to the witnesses in those hearings, her fellow committee members, and the legislative process. If she doesn’t want to participate in these hearings but has to be on a committee, then she belongs on a committee that isn’t so important to the legislative process, like cattle or insurance.
It's important to remember that, as public servants, our representatives are entrusted with the significant responsibility of shaping our state's future through their decisions and recommendations.
We must hold our elected representatives to the highest standards of professionalism and respect, especially when representing the interests of the people of Texas.
Suppose Slawson's heart and attention are not fully committed to the crucial work of the Committee on State Affairs. It's only fair to place her on an alternative committee assignment that better aligns with her interests and capabilities. Another representative, even if it is a Republican, should replace her on that committee.
Our legislative process needs to remain respectful, engaged, and focused on the needs of Texans, and that responsibility rests with each member of our legislature. Shelby Slawson fails in that role.
If you are as outraged as I was over Shalby Slawson’s behavior, the only person who can remove her from that committee is Speaker Dade Phelan. Feel free to drop him a line at (512) 463-1000 or email him.
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