Within hours on the first day to formally file legislation for consideration during the next session of the Texas Legislature, there were more than 300 bills filed dealing with everything from the legalization of marijuana for medical use to having an annual legislative session for budgeting purposes to school finance to congratulating Texas-born New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for throwing the most passing yards in the NFL.
Bill filing will occur until March 8 and there should be more than 10,000 bills filed by then—the vast majority getting nowhere near the governor’s desk where his signature enacts them into law. During the last regular session of the Legislature, there were 10,672 bill filed, according to Texas Legislature Online. Governor Greg Abbott ended up signing 1,091 of them into law and vetoing 50 bills. That’s a success rate of roughly 10 percent for lawmakers.
The first bill filed in the Texas House was by Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who filed House Bill 21, which would provide a sales tax exemption for textbooks; Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, filed the first senate bill. Both House and Senate leaders reserve lower number designations for legislation that they determine to be priority. So, for example, the state budget bill—which will emerge from the House next year—would have a designation of House Bill 1 or a number close to it.
So most of the legislation that’s filed may never even get a committee hearing, much less consideration on the floor of the Texas House or Texas Senate, the two chambers that must give the bill final approval before it’s sent to Abbott, who has the ultimate authority to sign a bill into law or veto it.
Among some of the first day filings:
- At least three bills that would have Texas join 32 other states to legalize marijuana for medical usage and another bill that would decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.
- A bill that would result in Texas joining Arizona and Hawaii and exempting itself from observing daylight savings time—that spring ahead, fall back moment that confuses us all.
- A bill that would ask voters to amend the Texas Constitution to change the legislative session from every other year to every year, to approve an annual state budget instead of the current two-year spending plan that lawmakers now approve.
- A bill that would set a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
- A bill that would issue specialty license plates for Polish Americans.
- A bill that would exempt military veterans who have earned the Purple Heart for sustaining battlefield wounds from having to pay tolls on Texas toll roads.
- A bill that governs the adoption of dogs and cats that had been used for research.
- A bill that places a tuition cap on state colleges and universities.
- A bill that removes the ability of the state to take away professional licenses of anyone who defaults on student loans.
- A bill that would automatically update a person’s voter registration when that person updates a driver’s license.
- A bill that would create the ability to electronically register to vote.
- A resolution that commemorates the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast of the TV miniseries “Lonesome Dove.”
The 86th legislative session convenes on January 8 and runs until May 27.