State Capitol Highlights

Bill filers jump to early start as legislative session nears

Just a few of Texas’ 31 Senate members and 150 House members filed a total of 523 pieces of legislation on Nov. 14, the first day lawmakers could submit legislation for the coming session.

The 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature is scheduled to convene on the second Tuesday in January, that is, Jan. 10, at noon. Final adjournment — 140 days later — is set for the last Monday in May, that is, May 29.

Now, back to those bills filed on Nov. 14. Not that it’s a competition, but Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, filed 20 bills, the highest total of any House member. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was the top 1st-day filer among senators and all legislators with 42 bills and one joint resolution. Zaffirini also co-authored three bills she filed jointly with Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio.

The subject matter of early-filed bills is naturally wide-ranging. Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, Zaffirini and others filed bills regulating the use of a handheld communications device while driving. Craddick and others have filed such legislation in previous sessions. Reps. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, and “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, filed bills to establish a public law school in the Rio Grande Valley. Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, filed a bill to abolish the death penalty.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed a bill to prohibit the temporary closure of segments of the state highway system on days that scheduled events are being held in a municipality. Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, filed a bill to set term limits for elected officers of political subdivisions. Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, filed a bill to require a training course on human trafficking for commercial driver’s license applicants.

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