Texas Legislative Cycle
by Ashley Roberts
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
Interim Session and Special Session – second phase (even numbered year)
Public Interim hearings
Interim Committee Reports
Enacting Interim Legislation
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
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
State agency that advocates on behalf of people with developmental disabilities
Public interest news source on legislative issues, players, developments
How do you engage?
1. Committee Hearings
2. Office Visit
3. Public Rallies and Capitol Days
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.
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
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.
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
College / career readiness – where do students with disabilities fit into this?
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
Disability Rights Texas is of the opinion that this legislative session will be strongly focused on students with disabilities ranging from deafness, dyslexia, etc.
State assessment program