March 15 , 2019

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:

At the bill filing deadline, Texas legislators had filed the most pieces of legislation since 2009

Lt. Gov. Patrick announces list of top priority bills

Ray Lopez wins San Antonio's House District 125 seat, concluding the 2019 runoff elections

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Quote of the Week

"There was a Hurricane Harvey. And there was a major school shooting in Santa Fe. We are reacting to that - but that's what we should be doing. That's what the Economic Stabilization Fund is about."

-Sen. Paul Bettencourt
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt made the statement this week as the Senate approved a $6 billion supplemental budget to cover unexpected expenses incurred since the last two-year budget was passed in 2017. Under the legislation, about $3 billion will cover costs associated with Hurricane Harvey damage; roughly $2 billion addresses a shortfall in Medicaid funding; and $542 million would pay for teacher pension liabilities. The measure still needs approval from the House and governor  before becoming law.
State legislators file second-highest number of bills at filing deadline

When the deadline to file bills in the Texas Legislature passed last Friday, lawmakers had filed the most legislation since the 2009 session. 

When the deadline had passed, a total of 7,281 bills and joint resolutions had been filed between the Senate and the House. The last time legislators hit the 7,000-bill mark was in 2009 when 7,324 bills and resolutions were filed, marking the largest volume of legislation for a single session. 

In the House, lawmakers have filed 4,639 bills or resolutions this year, an increase of 7 percent over the previous session in 2017. And in the Senate, 2,444 bills or resolutions have been filed this session, an increase of 6 percent. 

The graph below, courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library, depicts the number of bills and joint resolutions filed during each session since the 71st regular session in 1989. Click here to see further analysis.


Patrick announces list of top 30 priority bills for 2019 session

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced last Friday his list of top priorities for the current legislative session, as the deadline to file legislation passed. 

Topping Patrick's list are policy agenda items such as property tax and school finance reform, and of course, the state budget, which is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass in a given year. 

"This priority legislation strengthens our support for life, liberty and Texas values," Patrick said in a statement. "It increases protections for taxpayers, ensures that our democracy remains strong and that our economy will continue to grow and create jobs."

Traditionally, the leaders in the House and Senate save the lowest bill numbers for legislation they deem the most important during a particular session. The state budget, property tax reform, and teacher pay raises are contained in the first three bills filed in the Senate.  Beyond that, the lieutenant governor has prioritized issues such as abortion, school safety, and disaster response legislation. 

The list also includes bills that would affect the construction industry, including Senate bills 15 and 28. SB 15 would prohibit local governments from forcing private employers to offer paid sick leave. SB 28 would affect how local governments hire contingency fee lawyers suing for construction defects. We will continue to follow these bills.

Click here to see a full list of Patrick's top bills in the Senate. 
Democrats fill final House seat as Lopez wins runoff election in San Antonio's district 125

Democrat Ray Lopez defeated Republican Fred Rangel in Tuesday's runoff election for House District 125 in San Antonio. 

Ray Lopez
Lopez won with 58 percent of the vote after Rangel had finished first in a Feb. 12 special election when he was the sole Republican among several Democrats in the race. However, in this week's runoff voters coalesced around Lopez in a district considered a stronghold for Democrats.

Lopez will replace former state Rep. Justin Rodriguez, who vacated the seat in January to become a Bexar County Commissioner. With all 150 seats in the Texas House now decided, Republicans hold a 83-67 seat advantage. 
 
April 2019
FRI 26th - TBB Board meeting
 
May 2019
MON 27th - Last Day of 86th Legislature
 
June 2019
WED 5th - SAT 8th - Convention @ Jackson Hole, WY
 
August 2019
THU 22nd - OCA awards @ Georgetown, TX
FRI 23rd - Board meeting
 
November 2019
FRI 15th - Board meeting