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What to Expect When You're Expecting...Session!

The first day of the Regular Session is filled with activity and ceremony, and follows a schedule similar to first days past. The House and Senate journal entries for previous first days can be found on the library's website, and offer a glimpse into what to expect on January 10, 2017, when the 85th Texas Legislature convenes at noon.

Opening day of the 84th Legislative Session, January 13, 2015. Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

In the Senate, the first day of session is called to order by the Lieutenant Governor, while in the House the Secretary of State acts as Master of Ceremonies until the Speaker is elected. In both chambers, a roll call of members is taken to establish a quorum, and an invocation is offered. Members-elect will also take the oath of office. For information about members of the Texas Legislature, please visit our Texas Legislators: Past & Present page. 

Senator Troy Fraser, right, with his granddaughter on the opening day of the 84th Regular Session in 2015. Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

Representative Obie Jones with family during opening day of the 55th Legislature in 1957. Douglass, Neal. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

In the House, an important piece of business on opening day is the election of the Speaker. Because the Speaker is elected before the permanent rules of the House are adopted for the current session, a motion is usually adopted to temporarily use the rules of procedure from the previous session. Current and historical rules of the House and the Senate can be found on the library's website. Procedures for nomination and election of the Speaker are passed via resolution. In many past sessions, nominating speeches were not to exceed 5 minutes and seconding speeches were not to exceed 4 minutes. The nominating and seconding speeches as well as the final vote tally are often recorded in the House Journal, and the library has compiled these documents on its website


Learn more about Speakers of the Texas House, 1846 - present.


In turn, the Senate elects the President Pro Tempore. Nominating and seconding speeches are also allowed for this election. Traditionally, the senator with the most seniority who hasn't previously served as President Pro Tempore would serve as the next President Pro Tempore. After the election, a committee is appointed to escort the President Pro Tempore-elect to the podium to take the oath of office and to address the Senate.


Learn more about Lt. Governors and Senate Presidents Pro Tempore, 1846 - present


At the beginning of session each chamber passes a resolution to spell out operational details. In the House, this is called the Housekeeping Resolution, and in the Senate, the Senate Caucus Report. Each chamber notifies the opposite chamber and the governor when their proceedings are concluded, organized, and ready to transact the business of Texas.


If you are unable to join us here in Austin, you can watch a live broadcast of the day's proceedings online at the House and Senate websites.

Thomas Reuben Bonner, Speaker of the Texas House during the 15th Legislature (1876).

Richard Bennett Hubbard Jr., Lt. Governor during the 15th Legislature (1876).




New Laws Effective September 1, 2016

The following bills take effect September 1, 2016. To see a full list of bill effective dates from the 84th Legislature (2015), please see the Library's Effective Dates for Bills page.
  • HB 735
    Relating to the collection of information regarding the number of alternatively fueled vehicles registered in this state.
  • HB 2154
    Relating to the functions and operation of the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
    *This Act takes effect September 1, 2015, except Section 21 takes effect September 1, 2016.
  • HB 2718
    Relating to a program to allow faith- and community-based organizations to offer supplemental assistance to certain recipients of public assistance.
  • HB 2804
    Relating to evaluation of public school performance.
    *This Act takes effect immediately, except Section 3 takes effect September 1, 2015, Section 4 takes effect September 1, 2016, and Section 5 takes effect September 1, 2017.
  • SB 195
    Relating to prescriptions for certain controlled substances, access to information about those prescriptions, and the duties of prescribers and other entities registered with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration; authorizing fees.
    *This Act takes effect September 1, 2016, except Sections 481.003(a), 481.076(c), 481.0761(a), (e), and (f), and 481.352, Health and Safety Code, as amended by this Act, and Section 481.0761(g), Health and Safety Code, as added by this Act, take effect immediately.
  • SB 200
    Relating to the continuation and functions of the Health and Human Services Commission and the provision of health and human services in this state.
    *This Act takes effect September 1, 2015, except Article 3 takes effect January 1, 2016, excluding Sections 3.02(b) and 3.42, which take effect September 1, 2015; Sections 1.23(a), (b), and (c) take effect September 1, 2016; and Sections 1.16 through 1.19 and 1.23(d) and (e) take effect September 1, 2017.
  • SB 206
    Relating to the continuation and functions of the Department of Family and Protective Services and procedures applicable to suits affecting the parent-child relationship, investigations of child abuse and neglect, and conservatorship of a child; affecting fee amounts and authorizing an administrative penalty.
    *This Act takes effect September 1, 2015, except Section 69 of this Act has no effect and Sections 42.050(d) and 42.052(f-1), Human Resources Code, as added by this Act, take effect September 1, 2016.
  • SB 208
    Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Workforce Commission.
    *This Act takes effect September 1, 2015, except Sections 4, 6, 7, 8, and 19 take effect September 1, 2016, and Section 26 has no effect.
  • SB 304
    Relating to certain violations committed by long-term care facilities, including violations that constitute the abuse and neglect of residents.
    *This Act takes effect immediately, except Sections 242.061(a-2) and (a-3), Health and Safety Code, as added by this Act, take effect September 1, 2016.
  • SB 1496
    Relating to background checks conducted by the Department of Family and Protective Services for certain child-care providers.
  • SB 1512
    Relating to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles fund.

Back to School: New Legislation Relating to Public Schools

With the beginning of school approaching, we thought it would be a good time to highlight public education bills passed by the 84th Legislature that apply in the 2016-2017 school year.
  • HB 4, Relating to prekindergarten, including a high quality prekindergarten grant program provided by public school districts.
Section 29.167(b), Education Code, requiring a prekindergarten teacher to have been awarded a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, applies beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.
  • HB 2293, Relating to the certification by the comptroller to the commissioner of education of the taxable value of property in each school district.
"The changes in reporting will not affect reporting requirements until the 2016-17 school year." Briefing Book on Public Education Legislation, 84th Texas Legislative Session, Texas Education Agency, July 2015
  • HB 2610, Relating to the minimum number of minutes of instruction for students to be provided by public school districts and the scheduling of the last day of school for students by public school districts.
"Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, school districts and charter schools will be required to submit calendars showing the amount of time that school was held each day, along with any waiver minutes granted by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) through the summer data submission." House Bill 2610: Frequently Asked Questions, Version 4, Texas Education Agency, February 9, 2016
  • HB 2804, Relating to evaluation of public school performance.
Section 39.054(a), Education Code, Methods and Standards for Evaluating Performance, text of subsection effective on September 1, 2016, relating to school district and campus performance ratings. 
  • SB 507, Relating to the placement and use of video cameras in self-contained classrooms or other settings providing special education services.
Section 29.022, Education Code, Video Surveillance of Special Education Settings, applies beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.
For a more comprehensive list of education bills, search for bills in the 84th Legislature under the subjects of Education--Primary & Secondary on Texas Legislature Online.
Additional resources on public education legislation and interim committee charges include:
Cover image by flickr user Province of British Columbia.

New Texas State Symbols, 2015

During the 84th Regular Session, lawmakers added seven new official state symbols to the more than 60 state symbols that represent Texas. Texas now has three official hashtags: #txlege, #Texas, and #TexasToDo. In addition, the cowboy hat is now the official state hat of Texas, the western honey bee is now the official state pollinator, "The Lone Star State" is now the official nickname of Texas, and the Texas gulf shrimp is now the official state crustacean.
See the entire collection of official Texas symbols on our Pinterest page, State Symbols of Texas. Each symbol includes an image, as well as a link to the resolution that designated it.
Did you know?  Three species of shrimp are native to the Texas gulf: the brown shrimp, the white shrimp, and the pink shrimp. Of those three, the brown shrimp is nocturnal, and Texas shrimpers must fish at night to catch them.  
Image of honeybee by flickr user autan.

Legislative Wrap-Ups, 84th Regular Session

Texas organizations and state agencies are beginning to release their summaries of the Texas Legislature's 84th Regular Session. Below is a list of summaries we've seen so far. Summaries can be a good source of information if you are trying to find descriptions of new laws.
League of Women Voters of Texas
Lloyd Gosselink, Attorneys at Law
Texas Freedom Network
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Texas Star Alliance
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Texas Watch
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance
Texas Humane Legislation Network
Children & Families
TexProtects (Texas Association for the Protection of Children)
Children at Risk
Texans Care for Children
One Voice Texas
Texas Alliance of Child & Family Services
Texas CASA
Office of Court Administration/Texas Judicial Council
Texas Civil Justice League
Criminal Justice
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA)
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
Texas Education Agency
Texas Home School Coalition Association
Raise Your Hand Texas
Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA)
Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas AFT (American Federation of Teachers)
Career & Technology Association of Texas
Elderly and Individuals with Disabilities
Department of Aging and Disabilities Services
The Coalition of Texans with Disabilties
Texas Renewable Energy Industry Alliance (TREIA)
SHALE Oil & Gas Business Magazine
The Sierra Club
Air Alliance Houston
Texas Water Conservation Association
Health & Human Services
Texas EMS Trauma & Acute Care Foundation (TETAF)
Texas Medical Association (TMA)
Texas Nurses Association
Higher Education
Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC)
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Homeowners & Property Owners Associations
The National Homeowners Advocate Group, LLC
Texas HOA 2015 Legislative Wrap-up for the 84th Legislative Session
Local Government
Texas Association of Counties
Texas Municipal League
Mental Health
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Texas Alliance of Recreational Organizations, Inc. (TARO)
Texas Economic Development Council
Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA)
Occupational Regulation
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)
Parks & Wildlife
Texas Deer Association
Public Employees
Texas Public Employees Association
Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS)
Public Safety
Texas Department of Public Safety
Rural Areas
Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Popp/Hutcheson PLLC
Department of Information Resources (DIR)
Texas Department of Transportation
Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF)
Locke Lord LLP
Texas Veterans Commission
Cover image by Pixabay user skeeze.

Constitutional Amendment Election, November 2015

On November 3, 2015, voters will have a chance to consider seven constitutional amendments proposed by the 84th Legislature. The proposed amendments cover a wide range of topics, including property taxes, transportation, state official residency requirements, and more.
For background and analysis of the ballot propositions, see the House Research Organization's Constitutional Amendments Proposed for Nov. 2015 Ballot, and the Texas Legislative Council's Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments.
The Texas Constitution is one of the longest in the nation and it's still growing. The Constitution is changed through amendments, which are proposed by the Texas Legislature and accepted or rejected by the voters.
Since the current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876, over 480 amendments have been accepted.  
Constitutional Amendments Proposed for the November 3, 2015 ballot
84th R.S.
Prop. 1
The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.
84th R.S.
Prop. 2
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.
84th R.S.
Prop. 3
The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.
84th R.S.
Prop. 4
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.
84th R.S.
Prop. 5
The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.
84th R.S.
Prop. 6
The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation
84th R.S.
Prop. 7
The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.


New Report: Sunset Commission Final Results, 2014-15

The Sunset Commission’s last report of the 2014–2015 cycle, Final Results of Sunset Reviews, is now available on the Sunset Advisory Commission's website
"This comprehensive report briefly summarizes the final results of each Sunset review, including both legislative actions and nonstatutory management directives. Despite the failure of four bills, the 84th Legislature adopted 72 percent of the Commission’s 185 recommendations through Sunset legislation or other related legislation. The legislation is estimated to have a positive fiscal impact of some $38 million."
- Ken Levine, Director of the Sunset Advisory Commission
A diagram of how the Sunset process works is available via the Sunset Advisory Commission's website.  
Cover image by Pixabay user gsbarber.

Signed Copies of Bills from the 84th R.S.

Signed copies of bills from the 84th and 83rd Legislatures, with session law chapter numbers, are made available online on the Secretary of State's Bills and Resolutions page.
You can determine whether a bill sent to the Governor was signed or filed without signature by checking the bill in the Texas Legislature Online. If the bill passed but was filed without signature, you will see the action "Filed without the Governor's signature."
Signed copies from the 78th - 83rd Legislatures are available online at the University of North Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive.
For questions about bill/chapter numbers for bills from the 84th R.S., please contact the Secretary of State's office at (512) 463-5561.

Bill Effective Dates, 84th Legislature

On September 1, 2015 provisions of 704 bills passed during the regular session of the 84th Legislature will take effect.
Additionally, sections of bills passed during the 83rd Legislature and 82nd 1st C.S. in 2011 will take effect on September 1.
To keep up with new laws throughout the year, check the Library's list of bill effective dates.

Bill Effective Dates

The library reviews the text of all bills that become law to determine their effective dates, and enters the information into the Texas Legislature Online (TLO). To find the effective date of a bill, lookup the bill in TLO and check the "Last action" field in the history window. In some cases, different sections of a bill may have different effective dates, in which case additional remarks will be given to provide the information.
For House and Senate bills from the 84th Regular Session (2015), the two largest groupings are:
  • Effective immediately: 500
  • Effective on 9/1/15: 678
There are also 4 bills from the 83rd Regular Session (2013) that become effective 9/1/2015.
The library compiles a more detailed list of bills and their effective dates following each regular and called session. The list is made available on the library's website once it is complete.

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