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Laws galore

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Legislators flood Austin with hundreds of bills on first day of filing season

By Ed Sterling

JUST A FEW of Texas’ 31 senators and 150 representatives filed a total of 523 pieces of legislation on the first day lawmakers could submit bills for next year’s 85th state legislative session.
One senator alone was responsible for almost 50 proposals, although four were joint efforts with other legislators, as legislators flocked to their respective chambers’ filing clerks on November 14.
Not that it’s a competition but representative Terry Canales, below, a Democrat from Edinburg, filed 20 bills, the highest total of any house member. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo, was the top first-day filer among senators and all legislators, with 42 bills, one joint resolution and three co-authored bills filed jointly with senator José Menéndez, a Democrat from San Antonio.
The subject matter of early-filed bills was naturally wide-ranging.
Representative Tom Craddick, a Republican from Midland, Zaffirini and others filed bills regulating the use of a handheld communications device while driving. Craddick and others have filed such legislation in previous sessions. canales-terry-tx-state-rep-2016
Representatives Eddie Lucio, a Democrat from Brownsville, and Mando Martinez, a Democrat from Weslaco, filed bills to establish a public law school in the Rio Grande Valley. Representative Harold Dutton, a Democrat from Houston, filed a bill to abolish the death penalty.
Senate finance committee chair Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound, filed a bill to prohibit the temporary closure of sections of the state highway system on days that scheduled events are being held in a municipality.
Senator Don Huffines, a Republican from Dallas, filed a bill to set term limits for elected officers of political subdivisions and senator Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Houston, filed a bill to require a training course on human trafficking for commercial-driving-license applicants.
During a typical session, legislators will file between 7,000 and 10,000 pieces of legislation. Of those, perhaps 20 per cent will survive the process and become new laws, amend or repeal current laws or appear on a statewide ballot as proposed constitutional amendments.
The 85th session is scheduled to convene on January 10, the second Tuesday in the month, at noon. Final adjournment – 140 days later – is set for the last Monday in May, the 29th.

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