November 10, 2008

From the Desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

81st Legislative Session
I am so grateful for this victory and for the thousands of Democrats, Republicans and Independents who helped make my re-election possible. This year’s election energized and introduced many new people to our electoral process. I am humbled by your continued support. Now it is time to enter the next phase of the process and return to Austin to legislate. This article will walk you through the legislative process.

The 81st Session of the Texas Legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. Members may start pre-filing legislation and resolutions beginning on Monday, November 10, 2008. The deadline to file a bill occurs on the 60th day of the session, or March 13, 2009. The legislature will meet for 140 days and the last day of the 81st session will be on June 1, 2009.

The Texas Legislature is one of a limited number of states whose legislature only meets once every two years. During that time, approximately 5,000 bills are filed. Once legislation is filed in the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House will assign the legislation to a committee.

The committee chairman will decide which legislation will get a hearing. A public hearing is scheduled for a bill and testimony is heard both for and against the bill from individuals and organizations that may be impacted by the bill. After the hearing, the committee will vote on the bill, either as written or as amended by the committee members.

If the committee votes to pass the bill, it is then sent to either the Calendars Committee or the Local and Consent Calendar. The Calendars Committee works similarly to other committees, and approves legislation selected by the chairman of the committee to reach the House floor where it will be voted on individually. The Local and Consent Committee approves a slate of legislation that may be local to one area of the state or may be something that the House will all agree on. However, if one member objects to any legislation in the Local and Consent slate, the entire slate fails.

Legislation that is placed on the general house calendar will be read to the entire house, at which time amendments may be introduced. The author of the bill will approve or disapprove any amendments. The House members will then vote to approve or disapprove an amendment. Once the amendment process is completed, a member of the House will move to vote on the legislation. A simple majority will approve the legislation. After two additional readings and votes, if the bill is passed by the House it is sent to the Senate.

In the Senate, the legislation will go through a very similar process. If amendments are added on the Senate side which the House members do not approve of, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor will assign members of both chambers to a joint committee to recommend an agreed upon bill for both chambers’ approval. The legislation is then voted on once again before being sent to the Governor for his signature. The Governor may sign or veto legislation, or it may pass into law without his signature if he declines to sign or veto it by a certain date.

The Texas Legislature Online website provides a tool under My TLO that allows you to receive bill and meeting alerts and track legislation throughout the legislative process. You may also view committee calendars, public hearing notices, bill information and many other types of information on this website. It is a very handy reference tool.

I hope that you have found this information useful and I welcome your thoughts and ideas regarding legislation. Please email my office at with the subject line “81st Session Ideas”. As always, please feel free to contact my office at (214) 370-8305 with any questions regarding these or other state issues. I look forward to hearing from you.