November 10, 2008

Calloway's Timely Tips for December

Timely Tips for December

Gardening is an excellent escape during the holidays. Now is a good time to plant trees and shrubs so they can develop a strong root system for next spring. Cool weather color such as Pansies, Snapdragons, Flowering Cabbage and Kale add splashes of color to your landscape. Spring flowering bulbs can be planted now once they have been properly chilled.

Prune summer flowering shrubs and vines now. They will bloom on new growth. Remember-do not top your Crape Myrtles! Simply prune to remove seed heads and shape. Trim evergreens only to reshape.

Prepare for the cold weather before it hits! One of the best things you can do for your landscape plants is to provide a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch. Mulching is necessary year round but during the colder periods it provides a layer of insulation for the roots. Secondly, water your landscape well before a cold spell. A drought stressed plant is more susceptible to freeze damage. Thirdly, for more tender plants, purchase frost cloth for extra protection. Frost cloth is a fabric which adds 3 to 4 degrees of warmth. Cover the plant completely allowing the edges to come all the way to the ground. We are utilizing the heat which radiates from the ground.

This is also a great time to start planning changes or additions to your landscape. Bring a sketch or photo and let our Calloway’s Texas Certified Nursery Professionals assist you!

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.