Author Topic: Five Things to Watch in the Upcoming Session of the Texas Legislature  (Read 255 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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Texas Monthly By Carlos Sanchez 1/7/2019

At noon on Tuesday—the second Tuesday of odd numbered years, as prescribed by the state constitution—150 members of the Texas House and 31 members of the Texas Senate will be sworn into office to convene the 86th Texas Legislature. Each House member represents approximately 113,000 constituents. Each member of the Senate represents roughly 500,000 constituents. For the next 140 days, these two groups of elected officials will be locked into a marathon of public policy making, considering in excess of 6,000 bills (and rejecting most of them). Here’s my recommendation for five things to watch this legislative session.

A new House speaker

From the governor’s desk to the Senate to the House itself, all eyes will be on Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen, who has spent twenty-two of his 46 years as a member of the Texas House. The retirement of Joe Straus, of San Antonio, had promised a rare wide-open race for a replacement. But in a testament to his skills, Bonnen was able to lock up the race within days of last November’s election. The first order of business for the House, once they are officially sworn in by new Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, is to elect Bonnen the new speaker.---

House Democrats

Once outnumbered in past sessions by an almost two-to-one margin, Democrats in the Texas House are returning to Austin in a good mood. The November election gave them a net gain of twelve seats (three seats remain vacant). By their estimate, they expect to eventually have a total strength of 67 Democrats compared with 83 Republicans.---

Social conservatives

If Democrats are happy with the November election results, social conservatives in the Legislature most certainly are not. Despite millions of dollars that were poured into the campaigns of this wing of the Republican party, the results were not good and their numbers are fewer. ---

Property tax and school finance reform

Property taxes and school finance reform should be the defining legislative priorities this session. Budget experts and some political leaders say the two should be considered a single issue. ---

The border

President Donald Trump’s shadow will grow more defined under a Democratically controlled House in Washington, and the result could well affect lawmakers in Austin. Two sessions ago, while Barack Obama was president, the Republican-controlled Legislature easily justified allocating roughly $800 million on border security, saying it was necessary because the federal government wasn’t doing its job.---

He who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.

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