Around the Texas Capitol
At session halfway point, it’s bills, bills, bills
By Shayne Woodard, J Pete Laney and Lauren Spreen
TAD Governmental Affairs
On Monday, the Texas Legislature hit the halfway point of its 140-day legislative session. Now the action really takes off.
We’ve been working hard to review all of the bills that have been filed this 86th legislative session. The deadline to file bills to be considered by the Texas Senate and House was 6 p.m., Friday, March 8. The filing deadline does not apply to local bills, concurrent resolutions or simple resolutions.
A total of 4,773 House bills and joint resolutions and 2,508 Senate bills and joint resolutions were filed for a total of 7,281 bills. Of that total, a whopping 2,830 were filed in the last week. How the number of bills filed by deadline compares to the past five sessions:
- 2017 – 6,654 bills
- 2015 – 6,107 bills
- 2013 – 5,665 bills
- 2011 – 5,672 bills
- 2009 – 7,136 bills
To take a look at any and all bills filed, click here.
This week, the full House will start taking up bills. Tuesday’s calendar had nine bills, and Wednesday’s calendar has eight bills that will be heard by the 150-member body.
To see the House and Senate Intent Calendars– the list of bills to be considered each day by both chambers – click here.
Here’s a look at other select legislative activity:
The House Natural Resources Committee met Tuesday, March 19 to take up a number of significant water bills:
- HB 721 by Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), which would require the Water Development board to conduct studies of aquifer storage and recovery projects in the state water plan and report the results to regional water planning groups, and conduct a statewide survey to identify the relative suitability of aquifers for use in aquifer storage and recover projects.
- HB 723 by Larson, which would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to obtain or develop updated water availability models for the Brazos, Guadalupe, Nueces, Red, Rio Grande, San Antonio and San Jacinto river basins by Dec.1, 2022.
- HB 726 by Larson, which would make several changes to the regulation of groundwater.
- HB 1806 by Tracy King (D-Batesville), which would expand the area where water withdrawn from the Edwards Aquifermay be sold to include counties adjacent to the authority’s boundaries.
- HJR 11 by Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), which would propose a constitutional amendment allowing the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional general obligation bonds for the Economically Distressed Areas Program of up to $200 million to be used for water supply and sewer and drainage projects in economically distressed areas.
On March 12, the House Natural Resources Committee took up HB 807 by Larson which would require the Interregional Planning Council to adopt a new state water plan every five years. Also consideredwas HB 1617 by Larson which would change the deadline by which the Texas Water Development Board is required to identify and designate brackish groundwater production zones from 2022 to 2032. Both bills were left pending.
Election brings one new Texas House member
The legislative session may be half over, but one more member is joining the Texas House of Representatives. Democrat Ray Lopez, a former San Antonio City Council member and former Northside ISD trustee, won the March 12 special election run-off to replace former state representative and now Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio). Lopez defeated Republican Fred Rangel. Representative-elect Lopez will be sworn into office on March 21.