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Bills Face Their Fate As The Sun Sets On The 2019 Legislature

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

With less than two weeks left in the 86th legislative session, lawmakers are racing to have their bills considered, passed and sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The fate of much of the proposed legislation will be decided in these final days.

Lawmakers and their staff are in a flurry to meet the final deadlines, said Ellic Sahualla, the chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso.

“Leading up to deadlines, things always become very tense because obviously these bills are on the line,” Sahualla said. “This is where the real drama of session unfolds – is right at the end.”

This weekend, the House Calendars Committee will make its final calendar for the full body. The calendar is the blueprint for what’s going to be discussed on the floor, so all legislation that doesn’t end up on it will die.

“Everyone is trying to make sure that their priority gets through and that the things they’re concerned about do not,” Sahualla said.

Both the Senate and the House will finish considering all bills on May 22, 2019. This is considered one of the “hard” deadlines for the remainder of the session.

Here’s a more detailed layout of the most important dates to keep an eye on:

  • May 19, 2019: The House Calendars Committee will release its last daily calendar, meaning that whatever proposals don’t make it past this step won’t be passed into law this legislative session.
  • May 21, 2019: This is the last day that the House will do second readings for Senate bills. The proposals need three readings before they can be passed.
  • May 22, 2019: The House will wrap up its third reading of Senate bills. On the other side of the aisle, the Senate will finish considering all bills. This day marks the end for the consideration of all bills.
  • May 27, 2019: Last day of session. The House and Senate will focus on making corrections and performing administrative work.

Even if a bill makes it through these final steps, that doesn’t mean it will pass into law. There’s still a possibility the governor will veto the legislation, said James Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project, which conducts statewide public opinion polls.
“Even after we go through the nerve wracking process of the end of the session ... those that do get out aren’t guaranteed success because the governor has not been shy about vetoing legislation that he doesn’t like,” Henson said.

Last session, the governor vetoed 51 bills that made it to his desk, which Henson said is on the high side historically.

The governor will have up to 20 days after the session to sign a bill into law.

Sierra Juarez is covering the 86th legislative session for public radio stations throughout Texas. Previously, she’s interned for The Texas Tribune, the Austin American-Statesman, the San Antonio Current and KUT. She’s also participated in NPR’s Next Generation Radio program. Sierra will graduate in May 2019 with a journalism degree and a certificate in Latino Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.