House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R - Houston) had proposed a bill that would redistrict Travis County, the county in which Austin, the state capitol, is located. The Republican majority in the Texas House was pushing a scheme to carve up this district and effectively deny Austin representation in Washington. See the article in The Austin Chronicle.

Dems in GOP-dominated Texas House stage mass absence to break quorum
Police may round up missing Democrats

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Almost all of the Democratic members of the state House failed to show up Monday morning, preventing the GOP-dominated body from convening because of a lack of a quorum. In the first quorum-breaking in the state in more than 20 years, letters from 53 of the House's 62 Democrats informed the leadership they would be absent.

The walkout coincided with the scheduled debate for a congressional redistricting bill. Because of a deadline looming later this week, it also threatens pending major legislation backed by Republicans, who are in control for the first time since Reconstruction. Partisan tension has been building all legislative session. Republicans and Democrats have clashed over a no-new-taxes budget, sweeping lawsuit limitation legislation and a push by the GOP leadership to redraw congressional voting lines to favor Republicans.

The Texas House cannot convene without at least 100 of the 150 members present. The body has 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats. The plan, if successful, would derail and likely kill major pending bills that have been termed a priority by Republicans, who took control of the House last November for the first time since Reconstruction.

Twenty-four years ago this month, a group of 12 Texas state senators defied then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby by refusing to show up at the Capitol. The "Killer Bees," as they came to be known, hid out in an Austin apartment while state troopers, Texas Rangers and legislative sergeants-at-arms unsuccessfully combed the state for them. Carlos Truan, one of the original Senate "Killer Bees," said such drastic tactics aren't for the faint of heart. "They'd better be prepared to pay the political consequences for their actions, because there will be a hell of a price to pay," said Truan, who no longer serves in the Senate. "Breaking a quorum is a very, very major thing."

There was a call this morning to send State Troopers out to find them, but it is reported that some or all of them have left the state to avoid arrest.