The Texas legislature is a branch of state government which meets in the state capital in Austin

The Texas legislature is a branch of state government which meets in the state capital in Austin, Texas. The legislature is composed of two chambers. The upper chamber, which is the State Senate; and the lower chamber, the House of Representatives. To the Senate, there are 31 members and each of which can serve a four-year term at a time. This is different from the House as it contains 150 members, whose terms last two years. Tying both of these together is the session in which they conduct usual business. The Texas Constitution states that the “Legislature shall meet every two years at times to be established by law. Current law establishes the start of the session to be noon on the second Tuesday in January of all odd-numbered years.” Each of these sessions is limited to 140 days, but the governor can call for special sessions for important matters in which the last 30 days. The elections for the State Senate and the House office took place in 2018, with the general election occurring on November 6th. In accordance with this, the next legislative session will take place on January 8th and go through May 27, 2019. During each legislative session, the chambers will examine the state budget, will look at bill tracking and analysis, as well as a summary of interim charges. Interim charges are what occurs in between regular legislative sessions and more detailed and focus on key issues and researching information that will help decide future decisions. One of the key tasks to occur is the legislative process in which bills are introduced and laws are formed. There are a couple of ways in which a bill can be introduced. The most common is when “a representative or senator gets an idea for a bill by listening to the people he or she represents and then working to solve their problem.” Another form of introduction occurs when the Legislature is not in session through the commendations of an interim committee study. There are two types of bills- private and public. A private bill affects a specific person or organization, and a public bill affects the public. After the idea is introduced and the type is determined, it is then researched to figure out what needs to be changed to solve the problem. Once it is developed, it is introduced to Congress by a member of the house or the Senate in their chamber. Bills of any subject can be introduced during the first 60 calendar days of a regular session. After that, if an emergency is declared by the governor, the bill requires consent from at least four-fifths of the members in the house or the Senate. The caption of the bill, which is a short description, is then read aloud to all of the members while the chamber is in session. After the bill is introduced, the committee process begins.
In the lawmaking process, there are four stages. Introduction, committee action, floor action, and enrollment. The Texas Legislature is bicameral, this means that the first three actions must take place in both of the houses. When a bill is introduced by a member of the legislature, either a member of the house or the Senate, encompasses three of the actions within that chamber and then must complete those same actions in the opposite chamber. Once both chambers have agreed on a final version of the proposal then the fourth stage can take place. When a bill is in enrollment it goes back to the house it was proposed in, going on to the governor for the final approval. In more specific details the bill is brought up in the house of representatives. Then a state representative must “file the bill with the chief clerk of the house, and to introduce a bill in the Senate, a state senator must file the bill with the secretary of the Senate.” This is the unrestricted introduction of bills and happens during the first 60 calendar days of a regular session. After set time period the “introduction of any bill, other than a local bill, an emergency appropriations bill, or a bill to address emergency matters submitted by the governor, requires the consent of at least four-fifths of those representatives present and voting if the bill is to be introduced in the house, or the consent of at least four-fifths of the members of the Senate if the bill is to be introduced in the Senate.” Each bill goes through different stages. Beginning with the first reading which includes its caption only and referred by the speaker or lieutenant governor to a specific committee. These are specific committees as they each have their own set of subject matter to be concerned with. This process is where fiscal nots, impact statements, and bill analyses are tied to bills that will go with them the entire process. After considering a bill, a committee may choose to take no action or may issue a report on the bill. This is where the second and third readings occurs, when it goes to full house or senate, and then the full membership of the chamber. In this the committee may recommend passage of the bill without amendments, as well as, recommend amendments to the bill. When there is an unfavorable report it typically kills the bill. “A committee report includes: the committee’s recommendations and vote regarding the bill; the text of the bill as reported by the committee, which may be the introduced text or a substitute; any proposed amendments; a bill analysis; a fiscal note or other impact statement; and other attachments as necessary.” The final step for a bill is when it goes signed to the governor’s office, where it must be signed or vetoed, otherwise it will become a law without the signature. All of which must occur within 10 days of receiving the bill. In a case of it being vetoed it could go back to the chambers where it would need a two-thirds majority in order to be passed.
As the next legislative begins in January of 2019, there are a few discussions that can be examined in regard to what happened in the 85th session of the Texas Legislature. One of the biggest conversations of this session was the “bathroom bill” and the debate between the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, and the Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick; both who are Republican representatives. Disagreeing also on a property tax relief bill. Patrick was looking to pass both bills and Straus was denying all of it. Talking about the bathroom bill which would require people to use restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates. Straus refused to state that they needed “to protect the safety of some very vulnerable young Texans.” This being somewhat of a hot topic never reached a solution in the regular session and died on the final day when it was brought to the table in a special session due to not receiving enough support in the House of Representatives. During the 85th Legislature there were 1,211 bills enacted an there were nine joint resolutions adopted after considering 6,800 of the measures that were filed. Then in the first special session, 12 more bills were enacted, and by January 1, 2018 26 bills had been passed and would go into effect. Looking closer at the bills passed were in regard to College Credit for Hero’s, many related to various taxes, other education requirements, the requirement for using photo I.D. for credit and debit card transactions, and various others. Some of the biggest bills to come out in this session was the money allocated to the Child Protective Services, along with a gun license cost change and a major bill banning sanctuary cities. Among other the ban on texting and driving bill finally passed. Still being one of the most hated bills it passed statewide to ban texting in driving even though it was vetoed back in 2011 by Rick Perry.


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