BLOG: How A Bill Becomes A Law in Texas
Ever wonder how the laws that impact your everyday life originate? In today’s blog post, we walk you through the legislative process from start to finish.
A BILL ORIGINATES – During pre-filing ahead of the legislative session and the first 60 calendar days of a regular session, a legislator may file a bill for consideration by the 88th Legislature. A bill may only be introduced by a Senator or Representative in their chamber, and this is the only way a law may be enacted, amended, or repealed. The deadline for legislators to file bills during the 88th Legislature is Friday, March 10, 2023. After this period of unrestricted bill introduction, legislators may only introduce local bills that apply to a specific area rather than to the entire state. After a bill is filed, it is officially introduced to the Texas House of Representatives.
INTRODUCTION & REFERRAL - The next step in the legislative process is for a bill to be officially read in the House Chamber during the first of three constitutionally required readings. After a bill is read, it is then referred by the Speaker of the Texas House to a committee. These committees include legislators who are given jurisdiction over a specific subject matter. For example, past committees have included subject matters like public education, public safety, veterans' affairs, etc.
COMMITTEE HEARINGS - After a bill is referred, the committee then considers what action to take on the bill. A series of supporting documents can be provided to lawmakers with important information about the bill. These documents can include fiscal notes, impact statements, and bill analyses to help lawmakers better understand the legislation before them. Fiscal notes estimate the costs or savings that will be incurred if the bill is passed. Impact statements are prepared by the Legislative Budget Board and estimate the economic impact of proposed legislative changes. Bill analyses provide important background information on the measure and an analysis of the content of the measure. After considering the bill, the committee will vote and issue either a favorable or unfavorable report to the entire Texas House. A majority of the committee must vote in support of advancing the bill. A favorable report may recommend passage of the bill without amendments, recommend amendments to the bill, or substitute a new bill for the original bill. Although rare, an unfavorable vote will kill the bill at this stage.
FLOOR ACTION - After a bill comes back from committee, it is placed on the calendar for consideration by the entire Texas House. Floor consideration of a bill begins with the second of three required readings. Here, the bill is subject to debate and amendment by the entire chamber. A bill may be amended during its second reading by a simple majority of members present and voting, and a separate vote is taken on each amendment proposed. Finally, the bill is read for the final time and a vote is taken for final passage. After a bill has passed through committee and floor deliberation in the Senate, the bill is sent back to the House.
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR - If the Senate passes the bill with no changes or the House agrees with the changes made by the Senate, if any, the bill is sent to the governor. The Governor then signs the bill into law or has 10 days to veto or allow it to become law without signature.