The 86th Texas Legislature is soon coming to the end of its 140-day session and, for the next two weeks, the Capitol will be full of action (or inaction) on priority legislation.
Bills on issues such as red-light camera bans, free speech on college campuses, and property tax reform and relief have not yet made it to the governor’s desk. It is helpful for Texans to know the import dates of the process so they can track their top issues and monitor the performance of lawmakers as the session nears its end.
May 9 was a critical deadline for House bills to receive a vote in the House. When the clock struck midnight that evening, hundreds of bills died, including some conservatives’ priorities such as pro-life legislation, a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying, and religious freedom protections.
Those issues are not necessarily dead, however, as lawmakers in both chambers will continue to have the opportunity to vote out bills from the other chamber. The Senate, for that reason, will spend the next two weeks voting on House bills while the House will spend its time voting on bills from the upper chamber.
The Texas House’s deadlines are considerably more rigid than those of the Texas Senate, though. Therefore, it is important to consider the following dates:
Saturday, May 18, 2019 (131st day)
Last day for House Committees to report Senate bills. For example, Senate Bill 9 by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola), dealing with election integrity and mail-in ballot fraud, is scheduled for a hearing in the House Elections committee this Wednesday. The committee must vote out the bill by Saturday in order for it to have a chance of being voted on by the House.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 (134th day)
Last day for the House to consider Senate bills on second reading. Much like last Thursday’s deadline, this day will almost certainly go to midnight and the House will not reach all the bills set on the calendar, leaving those pieces of legislation dead until next session.
Friday, May 24, 2019 (137th day)
Last day for the House to act on Senate amendments. When a House bill is voted on in the Senate, it is often amended or changed slightly in the other chamber. When the bill comes back to the House, lawmakers have the decision to either concur with their changes or request a conference committee of members from both chambers to hammer out the differences. This is the last day to concur or request a conference committee.
Sunday, May 26, 2019 (139th day)
Last day for the House to adopt conference committee reports or discharge House conferees and concur in Senate amendments. For bills that have had conference committees appointed, this is the last opportunity for members to approve their report or to revert to the changes originally made by the Senate. Bills that do not have their conference committee reports adopted, or their Senate amendments concurred with, are deemed dead.
Monday, May 27, 2019, (140th day)
Last day of 86th Regular Session (sine die). The last day of the legislative session is generally not one full of substance, as only minor corrections may be considered in the House and Senate.
Unless a special session of the legislature is called by the governor, this is the end of the road for the 86th Legislature until January 2021. Lawmakers will return to their districts (those that don’t live in Austin full-time, that is), and voters will be given the opportunity to hold those lawmakers seeking re-election to account for their votes and accomplishments, or lack thereof.