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Week in Review, May 18

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

When Is a Day Not a Day? During Session!

You may have heard the terms "legislative day" and "calendar day" used fairly regularly over the past few months and wondered: what exactly is the difference between the two and how do they relate to the legislative process? 

 

A calendar day is a day of the year on which the legislature may be in session, regardless of whether either the house or senate actually meet, while a legislative day is the period between the convening of the legislature and the next adjournment. To fully understand what this means and how a legislative day interacts with a calendar day, you need to be familiar with the terms "recess" and "adjournment". 

 

Recess is a break of a meeting that temporarily pauses the legislative day. Conversely, adjournment is the termination of a meeting that officially ends that legislative day. For example, the house or senate may start a daily legislative session in the morning, recess for other legislative business, and adjourn that same evening, completing a legislative day on the same calendar day. If an adjournment occurs after midnight, the legislative day will span two calendar days. Alternatively, they may recess at the end of a day rather than adjourn, thus causing the legislative day to continue at the next meeting, whether that be later that same calendar day, the following calendar day, or several calendar days later. 

 

There are many rules associated with specific calendar days and legislative days; the adopted rules for the house and senate specify which type of day is applicable. For example, both chambers limit the introduction of bills after the first 60 calendar days of the regular session.

 

 A significant requirement related to legislative days is found in the Texas Constitution which requires a bill to be read on three separate legislative days in each chamber before it can become law. More than one legislative day can be completed on a single calendar day if the members agree to adjourn the meeting midday and start a new legislative day before the close of the calendar day. This is generally done with non-controversial bills such as those on the local and consent or local and uncontested calendars. This maneuver allows bills to move through the legislative process much faster, while still complying with constitutional requirements and the rules of the house and senate. Both the calendar day and the legislative day are noted in each day's journal.

 

As the 85th Regular Session comes to a close, keep these legislative terms in mind as you follow the house and senate as they carry out the business of Texas.

 

 

Bill Amendment FAQ

Please note that this post addresses amendments offered during committee or floor consideration.

 

What is an amendment?

An amendment is a change to a bill or resolution that is proposed either during committee or floor consideration.

During committee consideration of a bill, amendments can be offered by a member of that committee, whereas any member can offer amendments to a bill during floor consideration.

 

When can bills and resolutions be amended?

A floor amendment can be offered during second reading or third reading consideration of a bill. During the second reading of a bill, each amendment must be approved by a majority of the members present and voting to be adopted. However, a vote of two-thirds of the members present is required to adopt an amendment during the third reading of a bill.

Like floor amendments, a committee amendment must also be approved by majority vote of the chamber in which the bill is pending. A committee amendment is laid out and subject to debate on the chamber floor during the second reading consideration of the bill.

 

Where can I find information about amendments?

For amendments to current or recent legislation, use the Amendment Search on the Texas Legislature Online (TLO). This search tool allows you to use the following parameters to narrow your search results:

  • Legislature
  • Amendment Chamber
  • Author
  • Bill Number
  • Reading
  • Type
  • Action

The "Amendment Search" engine on TLO is located under the "Search" tab.

The ability to search for text within an amendment is particularly useful to see if language from one bill has been added by an amendment to another bill.

 

An explanation of the columns of information in the "Amendments" tab is provided above.

The "Amendments" tab in TLO contains more information about amendments, including the author of the amendment, amendment type, action, date the amendment was proposed, and link(s) to the amendment text.

The Current Amendment feature on TLO displays the text of amendments as they are considered on the House floor. 

If you are conducting historical research about a bill, use the Legislative Archive System database and the collection of scanned House and Senate Journals to look for amendment-related information. Bill files, which can be found under the "Text" tab, contain adopted amendments, while journals contain all proposed amendments.

When using the Legislative Archive System, the bill file is located under the "Text" tab.


More information about amendments can be found in the following resources:

 

 

Bill Statistics & Upcoming Deadlines, May 15

 

As the 85th Legislature draws to a close, a series of end-of-session deadlines begins to take effect. Below is a list of deadlines that occur next week:

  • Monday, May 22: Deadline for house to distribute last House Local & Consent Calendar with senate bills.
  • Tuesday, May 23: Last day for house to consider second reading senate bills and senate joint resolutions on the House Daily or Supplemental Calendar.
  • Wednesday, May 24: Last day for house to consider local and consent senate bills on second and third reading, and all third reading senate bills and senate joint resolutions on the House Supplemental Calendar. Last day for senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on second or third reading.
  • Thursday, May 25: Midnight deadline for house to distribute senate amendments.
  • Friday, May 26: Last day for house to act on senate amendments. Midnight deadline for senate to print and distribute senate copies of conference committee reports on tax, general appropriations, and reapportionment bills.
  • Saturday, May 27: Midnight deadline for house to distribute house copies of all conference committee reports. Midnight deadline for senate to print and distribute senate copies of all conference committee reports on bills other than tax, general appropriations, and reapportionment bills, and all house amendments to senate bills and joint resolutions that did not go to a conference committee.
  • Sunday, May 28: Last day for house to adopt conference committee reports or discharge house conferees and concur in senate amendments. Last day for senate to concur in house amendments or adopt conference committee reports.
  • Monday, May 29: Last day of the 85th Regular Session (sine die); only corrections may be considered in house and senate.

House and Senate calendars are available on Texas Legislature Online, and Senate agendas are available in hard copy from the library (Rm. 2N.3). 

 

Bill statistics for the period of Nov. 14, 2016 - May 14, 2017 are below. For information about what happens to a bill after it passes, please see our Legislative FAQ page.

 

  House Bills (HB) & Joint Resolutions (HJR) Senate Bills (SB) & Joint Resolutions (SJR)
Filed  4,444 2,356
Reported out of committee 1,915 1,003
Passed by chamber of origin 1,017 846
Referred to committee in opposite chamber 842 757
Reported out of committee in opposite chamber 160 339
Passed opposite chamber 82 88
Sent to the Governor (bills only) 21 55
Signed by the Governor (bills only) 1 5

 

 

 

Week in Review, May 11

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

  • Examine Americans' views of NAFTA. (Pew Research Center, May 9, 2017)
  • Consider how working adults feel about emails outside of work. (Gallup, May 10, 2017)
  • Review recent religious freedom state legislation. (National Conference of State Legislatures, May 4, 2017)
  • Read about the implications of a federal government shutdown. (Congressional Research Service, May 5, 2017)

New & Noteworthy List for May 2017

The Library is continually adding new books to its collection. Below are the six titles from our May 2017 New & Noteworthy list.

Check out and delivery of New & Noteworthy titles is available to legislative staff in Capitol and District offices. To arrange check out and delivery of any of these items, you can submit an online request through the New & Noteworthy page on our website, contact the library at 512-463-1252, or use our PDF request form.

 

1. The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution
By Michael J. Klarman
Presents a comprehensive accounting of the founding of the U.S. Constitution from the precursor Articles of Confederation to the enactment of the Bill of Rights. Suggests the framers were practicing ordinary interest group politics and reviews primary sources to show their reasoning, prejudices, and moral blind spots. Concludes the Constitution was a coup for expanded powers of the federal government and a significant departure from the more democratic state constitutions of the time.
Oxford University Press, 2016. 865 pages.
342.7302 K665F 2016


 

 

2. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America
By Elizabeth Hinton
Argues that America's mass incarceration rates originate not with the Reagan administration's War on Drugs, as popularly perceived, but with the Johnson administration's Great Society social welfare programs. Traces the trajectory of Johnson's War on Poverty and War on Crime policies, illustrating how Nixon and later presidents pulled away from welfare efforts and devoted increasing resources to anticrime programs that ultimately criminalized poverty. Demonstrates how flawed statistical data overstated the problem of crime in African American communities and produced a distorted view of American crime as a whole.
Harvard University Press, 2016. 449 pages.
364.973 H596F 2016


 

 

3. We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative
By George J. Borjas
Analyzes the impact that immigration has on the United States economy. Questions whether the analytical models used by both proponents and detractors of unrestricted immigration policies are flawed based on their assumptions and data. Concludes that many of the arguments for and against certain immigration policies, supported by statistical evidence, have been corrupted to support a particular stance on immigration.
W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. 238 pages.
331.10973 B644W 2016


 

 

4. Moderates: The Vital Center of American Politics, from the Founding to Today
By David S. Brown
Charts the progress of centrism in American politics, emphasizing the critical role that moderate politicians, ideas, and collaborations have played since the United States was established. Examines the contributions of pragmatic, centrist leaders within their historical contexts, including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, the Bushes, and Bill Clinton.
University of North Carolina Press, 2016. 335 pages.
306.20973 B812M 2016


 

 

5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
By J.D. Vance
Examines the family, economic, and social challenges of America's poor, white working class in Kentucky's Appalachian region and small-town Ohio. Addresses policy issues of child abuse, alcoholism, poverty, welfare, and family trauma through a gripping and poignant memoir.
Harper, 2016. 264 pages.
305.5 V277H 2016


 

 

6. Shaming the Constitution: The Detrimental Results of Sexual Violent Predator Legislation
By Michael L. Perlin and Heather Ellis Cucolo
Presents a comprehensive overview of sex offenders and current sexual predator legislation in America. Analyzes in depth not only the laws, but also the social attitudes that have effectively blocked many constitutional protections that these offenders should have available to them. Argues public policy often has been the result of knee-jerk legislation and posits that as a result, society has neglected issues that matter - risk prediction, effective treatment, and curbing media misrepresentation.
Temple University Press, 2017. 309 pages.
345.73 P421S 2017


 

 

Bill Statistics & Upcoming Deadlines, May 8

 

As the 85th Legislature draws to a close, a series of end-of-session deadlines begins to take effect. Below is a list of deadlines that occur next week:

  • Wednesday, May 17: 9 a.m. Deadline for house to distribute its last House Local & Consent Calendar with local house bills.
  • Friday, May 19: Last day for house to consider local house bills on second and third reading. First day senate can consider bills and resolutions the first day they are posted on the Senate Intent Calendar.
  • Saturday, May 20: Last day for house committees to report senate bills and senate joint resolutions.
  • Sunday, May 21: 10 p.m. Deadline for house to distribute its last House Daily Calendar with senate bills and senate joint resolutions.

House and Senate calendars are available on the Texas Legislature Online, and Senate agendas are available in hard copy from the library (Rm. 2N.3). 

 

Bill statistics for the period of Nov. 14, 2016 - May 7, 2017 are below.

 

  House Bills (HB) & Joint Resolutions (HJR) Senate Bills (SB) & Joint Resolutions (SJR)
Filed  4,443 2,351
Reported out of committee 1,885 967
Passed by chamber of origin 769 747
Referred to committee in opposite chamber 355 446
Reported out of committee in opposite chamber 42 144
Passed opposite chamber 13 38
Sent to the Governor 1 7
Signed by the Governor 1 3

 

 

 

Bills in the News: High-Speed Rail

In this occassional post, we feature topics receiving widespread media coverage, tips for finding bills filed during the 85th legislative session, and related resources.

 

Bill Search

 

 

Search with the subjects Transportation--Mass Transit (I0823) and Transportation--Railroads (I0821) to find bills related to high-speed rail. Be sure to click on the radio button next to "And" so that bills with both subjects assigned will be returned in your search.

 

Resources

News

 

 

Week in Review, May 4

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

  • Explore fiscal trends by state. (Pew Charitable Trusts, April 13, 2017)
  • Examine the transparency of special districts. (U.S. PIRG Education Fund, April 25, 2017)
  • Consider Alaska's plan to lower health insurance premiums. (Governing, May 1, 2017)
  • Read an overview of Texas taxes. (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, April 2017)

 

Adjournment Times for the Last 30 Days of Session, 76th-84th Legislatures

As we enter the last month of session, late nights in the chambers are inevitable. Check out the graphs below for an overview illustrating how the past several sessions have compared on just how late those nights were, which days of the week have seen later adjournment times on average, and other comparisons.

 

For the purposes of these graphs, "adjournment" includes recessing for the day. Saturdays and Sundays in which neither chamber was convened were calculated as null values.

 

Cover image: Rusty Kelley, house sergeant-at-arms, 65th Legislature (1977). Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

 

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