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    Countdown to the 84th Legislative Session, Part 4: And the Bills Come Rolling In…

    This is the fourth in our blog series about being an effective advocate at the Capitol. We encourage all Raise Your Hand Texas members to voice your support and concerns when it comes to issues that affect you, your children, your public schools and communities.

    Pre-filing-2_b

    Stack of bills pre-filed on behalf of one legislator.

    Today is an important day, marking the beginning of legislative action for the 84th Legislative Session. Although the session doesn’t officially begin until noon on January 13th, 2015, members of the Texas Senate and House of Representatives may file bills that will be considered during the 140-day session starting today.

    Legislators and their staff work all interim to research policies, ideas and constituent needs that may translate into legislative proposals and bills. A review of the pre-filed bills usually offers a good idea of what the session will hold.

    Pre-filing-1_b

    Some legislative staff camp outside the Secretary of the Senate’s office, trading laughs and consuming caffeine, to be among the first to pre-file bills.

    However, all legislators, including the newest members who were elected on November 4th and won’t be sworn in until the first day of session, will have plenty of time to draft and file bills to be considered by the 84th Legislature. In fact, the deadline for filing bills isn’t until March 13th, though the later bills are filed, the more challenging it may be for those bills to make it all the way through the legislative process.

    To see what bills are filed today and in the days that follow, go to the Texas Legislature’s website, and check out the bill search feature, where you can search bills by author, committee, subject, etc. (or if you leave all the fields blank and click “search,” you’ll see all bills filed in numerical order by house).

    One note: Don’t be confused if the first bill filed in the House or Senate is House Bill (HB) 21 or Senate Bill (SB) 26. The Speaker of the House and the Lt. Governor have the right to “reserve” the first number of bills (HB 1-20 or SB 1-25, for example) for their priority issues. Although the Speaker and Lt. Gov. can’t file bills themselves, they can work with members of their respective houses to file bills important to the leadership.

    Beyond the first “reserved” bill numbers, the rest of the bill numbers are first-come, first-served, so whomever is lined up first at the Secretary of the Senate’s office receive the lowest bill numbers for their bills. For the first time ever, the House is filing bills electronically, so staffers will not be waiting in line outside the Chief Clerk’s office as in previous years.

    For a wealth of additional information about the filing of bills and the legislative process, see the legislature’s official Guide to Legislative Information, a 57-paged document that covers all the basics about how a bill becomes a law and who does what in supporting the legislative process. It even has a handy glossary of legislative terms.

    Process of a bill

    Chart showing how a bill becomes a law, page 40 of the legislature’s official Guide to Legislative Information

    Becoming informed about the legislative process is the first step to getting involved and standing up for your passions and priorities at the Texas Legislature. May the 84th Legislative Session be your most informed and involved session yet!

    To read more about the Texas Legislature and how you can get involved, check out the previous installments of this series:

    Part 3: How Your Personal Story Can Shape State Law

    Part 2: Advocacy Basics – We All Have A Role To Play

    Part 1: Interim Charges

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