On May 29, your Texas Legislature will adjourn sine die, meaning we will conclude the regular 85th Legislative Session. Before we approach the closing day, the Texas House has much work ahead to address key priorities for Texas.
As the session continues, many people wonder about the status of certain bills, when voting on a specific piece of legislation occurs or why certain bills have not yet progressed to the House floor for debate. With only 140 days allotted to pass a bill, I want to take a moment to describe the milestones of a successful piece of legislation before it passes into law and how my role as the House Republican Caucus Chairman fits into the dynamic of the Texas House of Representatives.
When a bill is first introduced to the House, it is read for the first time on the House floor and then the Speaker of the House must refer the bill to the appropriate committee. If the chair of the committee consents, then the bill is set for a hearing where it will be presented to the public. This is a significant step in the process for several reasons. It not only provides the bill author with the opportunity to share the intent of the legislation, but it also allows the people we serve to be involved during the process as they offer invaluable testimony on how this piece of public policy should be crafted.
After the bill has been presented, the bill can either receive a favorable or unfavorable report from the committee. If it’s reported favorably from the committee, then one of the two Calendars Committees will set the bill for a date to be considered by the full House. An unfavorable report indicates the bill will most likely not progress.
After arriving on the House floor, the bill is read for the second time and amended (if necessary). The next step is the third and last reading of the bill to the House and then a record vote is cast. If two-thirds of the Texas House vote for the bill, it moves to final passage. While “final passage” may sound significant, it is by no means the end of the road for a bill as it then moves to the Senate to begin their process.
Upon receipt in the Senate, the bill travels through their committee and floor process in a similar manner. Should the Senate deem a bill is in need of change, the amended bill returns to the House. If the House members agree with the Senate alterations, the bill is voted to enrollment and heads to the governor’s desk immediately. If the House members do not accept the changes, a conference committee consisting of both House and Senate members is formed to devise a bill that is mutually agreed upon. When the conference committee adopts a final version of the bill, it is sent back to the House and the Senate to be signed and then delivered to the governor.
One of the final steps for a bill to become law is its reception and signature by the governor. The governor has three options: to sign, refuse to sign, or veto the bill. The first two options will ultimately result in a bill successfully passing into law, but the veto of the governor is an overriding check that will not allow the bill to become law.
Throughout this process, my role as the Republican Caucus Chair in the Texas House is unique. In this capacity, I am privileged to manage the Republican Caucus that is designed to provide research, education, policy development, and support to the Republican members. With over 5,000 pieces of legislation filed each session, it is imperative that my members be well informed and able to be successful. While I actively engage to ensure each item is addressed, the most significant purpose that I serve as the chair is in the unification of and advocacy for my 94 Republican colleagues who each represent various and diverse parts of the state. I learned long ago that any group of individuals is most successful when they stand as one, rather than divided as many.
From the House Republican perspective, there are critical measures still pending this session that will not go unaddressed. Although the clock races against us, timing is key during this process and I remain confident that legislation that keeps Texas economically vibrant and protects our values will ultimately pass during the small amount of time that the session offers. The House Republican Caucus strives to collectively work together in passing our critical conservative priorities for the session, and I am proud of our previous successes as well as the work we are accomplishing in the 85th.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives, and I always welcome your feedback. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 512-463-0688 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.