The Texas Legislature convened this week for the 83rd Session. 180 members were sworn in on Tuesday, January 8, including 44 freshman Representatives and 5 freshman senators. The Senate is currently one member short due to the recent passing of Senator Mario Gallegos of Houston. The special election to fill the open SD6 senate seat will be held on January 26, 2013.
The Texas Senate includes 19 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one Democrat vacancy. The Senate approved new rules, with two items of note. The controversial two-thirds rule has been preserved, and the Senate will continue to debate bills on the Senate floor only if two-thirds of Senators vote to allow it. The Senate also voted for a significant change in the handling of sunset bills, which will now go to their respective substantive committee, rather than Government Organization. The Senate has adjourned until Monday, January 14.
The Texas House of Representatives includes 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats. Joe Straus was re-elected unanimously by acclamation as Speaker of the House. Earlier opposition from announced speaker candidate David Simpson was resolved when Representative Simpson withdrew from the speaker’s race.
Representative John Smithee chairs the House Rules workgroup, and distributed the proposed rules to members on Wednesday. Members have the weekend to study the proposals for debate on Monday. The House has adjourned until that day as well.
Pre-filing began in November. 654 bills have been filed to date including 439 House bills, 149 Senate bills, and 66 resolutions. The League is currently tracking dozens of bills on various subjects ranging from courts to guns, state regulation, fracking, climate change, civil proceedings, potential new causes of action, and many others. We will keep you apprised of developments.