With time running out in the legislative session, the Texas House and Senate have entered a biennial tradition: each chamber complaining that the other isn’t passing its bills.
For the past few weeks, Capitol observers were speculating that the lieutenant governor was taking his time referring House bills to the Senate because the House was taking its time acting on some of the lieutenant governor’s priority items. Once action was taken on some of those priorities, House bills did start moving in the Senate. But there was still a sense that they weren’t moving fast enough. So, the House made its unhappiness even more apparent.
House members recessed on Thursday, May 20, but rather than come back the following day, they delayed their return until Sunday, May 23. This spurred the Senate to meet on a Saturday for the first time this session.
Why does this all matter? The deadlines to pass bills in both chambers are fast approaching.
The House must pass bills on its regular daily calendar by Tuesday, May 25. The Senate’s deadline to pass any additional bills is Wednesday, May 26. You can check the progress on the total number of bills passed on the legislative statistics page of the Texas Capitol website.
Bills passed prior to the deadlines on Tuesday and Wednesday will head directly to the governor’s desk for review if the versions of those bills passed by both the House and Senate are identical. For the bills where there are differences, there’s still work left to do.
Each chamber will either agree with the other body’s changes or request a conference committee to work out the differences. If there is no dispute on a bill, it goes to the governor. If a conference committee is needed, then both chambers must approve the final language of a bill by Sunday, May 30.
Due to House requirements on how long documents must be publicly available before discussion, the primary House calendar in these final days of the session is known as the “Items Eligible for Consideration” calendar. As with any legislative docket, some of the bills on this calendar may fail to be brought up in time for approval. So, it’s important for the conference committees to work out any final changes in a speedy manner. This also means that both the House and Senate, as well as anyone paying close attention to their activity, can expect a few more late nights in the next week. You can review the remaining legislative deadlines on the 87th Legislature calendar (PDF).
Hearings To Watch
At this point in the legislative session, committees have essentially finished their work and few, if any, public hearings are scheduled for the upcoming week. To keep track of what’s going on, you can find live and archived broadcasts of the respective chambers on the House and Senate websites.
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