Thursday, May 12, 2011

Day 122: Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick...

Today is the 122nd day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House reconvenes at 9:30, the Senate will return from their overnight recess at 8:00.

HB 1386 by Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) is on the House's list of bills to be considered today, but the clock is ticking. The bill would create a comprehensive inter-agency program to prevent teen suicide. It must be brought up for consideration by midnight tonight. Currently it is the 129th bill in line for consideration. These deadline days tend to move pretty quickly but HB 1386 is likely to be right on the razor's edge of the cut off. For nail-biting drama tonight turn off your TV and watch the House floor HERE.

Speaking of deadlines, SB 723, the anti-trans marriage bill, is facing a deadline of it's own. The bill is currently on a fast-track list of bills known as the "intent calendar" that require a 2/3 vote of Senators to be brought up for a vote. A new intent calendar is created each week so if SB 723 doesn't pass this week the bills sponsor, Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) will have to put it back on next week's intent calendar. Senators only get to put a certain number of bills on the calendar so each week this bill doesn't pass Williams' must spend political capitol to keep it on the calendar.

IF SB 723 passes the Senate the next step will be 1st reading in the House and referral to House committee. The bill would likely be referred to the House Public Health Committee, which would have until Saturday, May 21st to vote on it. It is very likely that if SB 723 will not have enough time to complete the rest of the process, even if it passed today.

That said, it must still be watched carefully because the rules start to change in the Senate next week. Currently bills have to be on the intent calendar for a day before they are brought up for a vote, which gives community organizers and activists some warning. On Friday, May 20th, the 130th day of session, that rule goes away and a bill can be brought up from the intent calendar the same day it's put on the calendar. The good news is that there is only a 2 day overlap between the change in that rule and the deadline for house committees to vote on Senate bills, but for those two days we will be in a very vulnerable position.

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