Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 3: A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action

The House reconvenes at 9:30 today, and then will hold a joint session with the Senate at 10:00. Expect them to do the pledges, introduce the pastor and the doctor of the day (yes, they have those), say a prayer, congratulate some people, handle a few technical pieces of business and then adjourn until Monday.

Tomorrow, Friday, will be a day off - so many of the officials will be heading out this afternoon (some have already left), leaving their harried staffs to try to catch up before they return on Monday. This makes Fridays a great day to call lawmakers' district offices and ask that they support legislation that is important to you. We'll be writing more about that tomorrow.

Yesterday was all about the rules, and the Sunset Commission. The State Constitution lays out the general outline of how the legislature is supposed to work, but each chamber (House and Senate) gets to adopt its own rules about the specifics of its operation. The debate on those rules began in earnest yesterday.

The Senate decided it will wait till next week to adopt its rules. The House, on the other hand, is in full debate mode on adoption of its rules. Quorum Report says that the House is looking at changing the way it handles "Sunset Bills". By State law every State agency must undergo the "Sunset Process" every 7 years. The process requires the legislature to reauthorize the agency's existence, otherwise it will be automatically dissolved. Last session the Legislature failed to reauthorize the Texas Department of Transportation and had to be called back to Austin to get take care of it (be glad they did, or we wouldn't have highways anymore). I'm guessing the suggested change is intended to fast track Sunset Bills to avoid a similar incident.

The commission that oversees the Sunset process also made its recommendations to the legislature yesterday. Expect those recommendation to dominate Texas political reporting for the next couple of days.

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