As the final month of the legislative session approaches, lawmakers have been ramping up their activity. Bills are being voted out of committee following hearings and public testimony, and legislation is being voted out of one chamber to be considered in the other. But while the technical deadlines for bills to advance are still a number of weeks into the future, the practical deadlines are right on the horizon.
Back in January, Empower Texans General Counsel Tony McDonald outlined some key dates and deadlines for readers of Texas Scorecard to contemplate when supporting—or opposing—pieces of legislation in the Texas Capitol.
McDonald points out the Texas Constitution requires bills be referred to and passed out of a committee prior to being considered on the floor of a chamber by a full body of lawmakers. The committee process, though important, can often be used as a method of hindering the progress of a legislation that politicians in positions of power may find unappealing or politically risky.
If a bill manages to navigate the obstacle course, but not in a timely enough manner, it is essentially dead. The first deadline for this session was March 8—the bill filing deadline. The second deadline is now at hand: Thursday, April 25. In his piece titled “What are the Real House Deadlines?” McDonald explains why:
That’s a lot of dates to remember, but April 25 is the one that activists should burn into their minds. A House bill needs to be passed out of its House committee by that date if its supporters want a reasonable shot at passing it. That means that the committee hearing on the bill needs to be scheduled by at least mid-April if it is going to stay on track.
McDonald further notes the Senate has a great deal more flexibility in when the bills work their way through the upper chamber, but they would need to be scheduled for their second reading in the House by the third and final deadline, Monday, May 6, in order to successfully be passed out by their House colleagues—a deadline now less than two weeks away.
The deadlines can be found below.
To have a legitimate chance to pass out of the House chamber,
- A House bill must be filed by March 8, and preferably much sooner.
- A House bill must be voted out of its House committee by April 25.
- A House bill must be scheduled for its “second reading” on the House calendar for May 6.
“With such tight deadlines, it is imperative activists demand hearings on the bills they support as quickly as possible after committees are assigned,” McDonald concluded.
His full article detailing the reasoning for such deadlines can be found here.