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  • Writer's pictureThe Dyslexia Initiative

Texas Legislative Cycle

by Ashley Roberts

Two-Year Cycle

The Texas Legislature only meets in regular session every other year – in odd numbered years – for a limited period to pass a state budget and consider, debate and adopt bills.

The Two-Year Cycle has a two-part process:

Regular Session – first phase (odd numbered year) January to May

  • Public Hearings

  • Enact Legislation

Interim Session and Special Session – second phase (even numbered year)

  • Staff Research

  • Public Interim hearings

  • Interim Committee Reports

  • Enacting Interim Legislation

Special Session

  • Can only be called by the Governor of Texas

  • The legislators do not have the ability to call a Special Session

  • Typically called after the Regular Session

  • Once their called back they are not at liberty to discuss any issue

  • The topic of discussion is only specified by the Governor

The November prior to the Regular Session

Lawmakers who were already in office and reelected have a privilege

  • They may go ahead and submit legislation for the upcoming session

  • It doesn’t entitle a lawmaker to any special privilege of consideration, but

  • It does give them a lower bill number

  • This can have a benefit b/c it’s easier to identify them, but does not bear any other privilege

  • A bill with a higher number may be debated before a bill with a lower number

Key Dates for the 86th Legislature:

  • Monday, November 12, 2018 – Lawmakers allowed to file bills and resolutions

  • Tuesday, January 8, 2019 – Regular Session of the 86th Legislature called to order

  • Friday, March 8, 2019 – Last day lawmakers may file bills and resolutions (certain exceptions apply)

  • Monday, May 27, 2019 – last day of Regular Session of 86th Legislature

Texas Legislative Leadership

Texas Senate

  • Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – elected statewide office

Texas House of Representatives

  • Speaker of the House: Elected by State representatives on first day of regular session

  • For the 86th Legislative session this office is held by Dennis Bonnen, unanimously elected by 147-0, openly dyslexic

  • At discretion of Speaker of the House to organize the house and decide on number of committees

  • Who is on the committees is at the discretion of the Speaker of the House

Education Committees Prior to 86th Legislative Session

Senate Education Committee

House Public Education Committee

Texas Legislative Resources

Texas Legislature Online

State website on details of bills filed, schedule of hearings, key legislative dates

Search for bill texts, member information and video archives

Resources to Keep Track of Process

Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities

Texas Tribune

How do you engage?

1. Committee Hearings

2. Office Visit

3. Public Rallies and Capitol Days

Committee Hearings

Public testimony is encouraged and allowed but it does take effort and preparation to be involved. Both oral and written testimony are accepted.

The most difficult part of the process is knowing when the bill you are interested in will be considered in hearing.

Hearing schedules are not make available to the public until the week before at best. Best source of hearing scheduled is Texas Legislature Online website.

Office Visits

Meeting in person with elected officials and their aides is a regular part of the process for paid lobbyists. Regular people can do the same thing!

Meetings can be arranged in the community at a district office, or in Austin at the Texas Capitol. An appointment is usually better for a meeting at the district office. Going to an office at the Capitol without an appointment is ok!

Sometimes meeting with the aide is more effective.

Public Rallies and Capitol Days

Many organizations host their members and allies for activities at the Texas Capitol as a planned event during the regular session.

Capitol days often include training about issues and advocacy, press conferences and distribution of literature to elected officials.

Check with the organizations that you belong to or affiliate with for any events planned for the 86th Legislature.

Major Issues Before the 86th Legislature

  • School Finance Reform

  • Child Find

  • OSERS Report was issued in a non-regular session year so while the cap was repealed in the last legislative session and the Handbook revision was issued near the end of 2018, the current legislative session may choose to discuss whether or not schools are doing what they should be doing in regard to Child Find.

  • School Safety

  • Mental Health

  • Emphasis on providing more staff in schools known as behavioral counselors and social workers

  • Will this be at the cost of other staff or on top of?

  • Something to keep an eye on

  • Transition

  • College / career readiness – where do students with disabilities fit into this?

  • Discipline

  • When parents are called to pick up their disabled child is this an in-school suspension? An undocumented behavior management issue?

  • How to ensure schools are following disciplinary process

  • Attention on Behavior Intervention Plans

  • Special Populations

  • Disability Rights Texas is of the opinion that this legislative session will be strongly focused on students with disabilities ranging from deafness, dyslexia, etc.

  • Curriculum

  • Teacher training

  • State assessment program


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