Not just a cheesy line from a horror flick, the 82nd legislative session will come to an end on May 30, 2011, in seven days. This does not however mean that the legislature is finished. If the state cannot pass a budget by Sine Die, the legislature will be forced into special session/s until a budget is passed. With currently no funding for education the inevitability of a special session is high…as in I will be damn surprised if there is not a special session.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011: Last day for House to consider 2nd reading SBs/SJRs on Daily or Supplemental Calendar
Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Las day for House to consider local and consent SBs on 2nd and 3rd reading and ALL 3rd reading SBs/SJRs on Supplemental calendar
Thursday, May 26, 2011: Before midnight — Senate amendments must be distributed to the House
Friday, May 27, 2011: Last day for House to consider Senate Amendments (concur or go to conference)
Saturday, May 28, 2011: Before midnight — House copies of ALL CCRs must be distributed
Sunday, May 29, 2011: Last day for House to adopt CCRs
Monday, May 30, 2011: Sine Die Corrections only in House and Senate
So, what have we accomplished so far?
House of Representatives
Concurrent Resolutions: 154
Joint Resolutions: 154
Concurrent Resolutions: 71
Joint Resolutions: 0
Concurrent Resolutions: 57
Joint Resolutions: 53
Concurrent Resolutions: 35
Joint Resolutions: 2
Total House and Senate Bills
Bills Vetoed: 0
Bills signed by the Governor: 180
Bills vetoed by the Governor: 0
Bills filed without the Governor’s signature: 2
For more statistics and reports you can visit the Texas Legislature Online Website
About those special sessions. It is just about guaranteed that the legislature will meet back in Austin some time around the second week in July to discuss the state budget, redistricting, and education funding. While all of this can be tackled in one special session it is more likely that Gov. Perry will call a seperate session for each issue (not necessarily limited to the ones I listed).
This is pretty much how the legislature works. The reasoning for this is mostly due to the time constraints placed on the legislature by the Texas constitution wherein the legislature only meets for a total of 140 days every odd numbered year. Not only are they constrained to this timeframe but the initial 60-days of session legislators are only allowed to pass bills delegated by the Governor as “emergency items” in his/her State of the State address. This is nearly half of the entire session during which we passed none of the Governor’s emergency items in this session.
Furthermore, all other bills must have a vote to suspend the rules agreed upon at the start of the session in order to take up any legislation. Of the legislation filed, which amounts to over 9,000 bills this session, only about 20 percent makes it to the floor in either chamber where it often faces lengthy scrutiny and delays. In combination with the massive budget shortfall for the next two fiscal years, redistricting, and public education funding to be carved out it’s not hard to see that 140 days is not nearly enough time to cover all of your bases.
Finally, one cannot forget the solid majority held by Republicans in both chambers which constantly reminds us that not everything that legislators wish to accomplish will happen in one session. This session, more than most, time constraints, partisan conflicts, and constitutional requirements made for one hell of a session to watch even as we stood biting our nails and shaking our heads.