Tuesday, May 9: We are approaching the end of this legislative session.  Many election bills are “dead”, and others are dying each day this week.  Monday, May 8 was the last day for House committees to pass House bills.  Any bill that has not already had a hearing and been passed by a committee is effectively dead.

There are several deadlines this week for scheduling and voting on bills. The major deadline is that Thursday is the last day for the House to pass major House bills on the floor. 

The bill to put executive committee meetings under the Open Meeting Act never had a hearing, and is officially dead.  The bill to eliminate straight ticket voting has passed the House, and is likely to become law. 

We do need to watch for “dead” items being added as amendments to other bills, but have the team in place to monitor such happenings.  A couple of bills moving forward in the House are of concern, but we will be working to fix them once they reach the Senate.

Legislative Agenda

There is a lot to report on from Austin, so let’s jump right in!

On Tuesday, January 31, Governor Abbott addressed a joint session of the House and Senate to give his State of the State address. The full transcript, and other resources, can be found here on the Governor’s website. During his speech, Gov. Abbott laid out four emergency items for the Legislature to take up. The Texas Constitution does not allow the Legislature to consider any legislation until the 60th day of session, unless the governor declares an emergency item, so this means that legislation pertaining to his items will be considered as soon as possible.

The four emergency items are:
1 – Child Protective Services reform (SB 11)
2 – Banning sanctuary cities and strengthening border security (SB 4)
3 – Ethics reform (SB 14)
4 – Article V Convention of States (SB 21, HJR 39, SJR 2, HB 506)

We can expect bills on these topics to be scheduled for hearings quickly.  SB 11 by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) will be heard on February 2 in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and SB 14 by Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) will be heard February 1 in Senate State Affairs.  You can watch those hearings online at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/events.php.

Speaking of the Texas Senate, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick made his committee assignments on January 18.  You can view all of them online here.  Committee assignments have not been made in the House, which means that House committees cannot yet take testimony on legislation.  We expect those assignments to be made soon.

Confused about all the acronyms?  The Texas House glossary of terms may be useful to you.  Click here.

In addition to all that is happening in the Legislature, the State Board of Education is meeting in Austin this week.  They were sworn in for this biennium on Tuesday.  You can view meeting webcasts and find more information about the SBOE on their website here.
Special thanks to the TFRW