With Less Than a Month Left in Session, Deadlines Approach for State Lawmakers
Less than a month remains in this year's legislative session, and Texas lawmakers face hundreds of bills and several procedural deadlines this week.
Today is the last day House committee members can vote on bills that originated in the House, which means it's the last day a House bill has a chance of being placed on the calendar for the whole chamber to hear.
Thursday is the last day for the House to hear the second readings of bills. The second reading is when the members of a chamber debate the bill and can amend it with a majority vote.
Friday is the last day for the House to pass bills on third reading. The third and final reading is when members consider the bill again, and can amend it, but with a two-thirds majority this time. This deadline means representatives could be working late into the night next week.
One of the bills coming up in the House is a bill that would create a pilot needle exchange program. This bill has been up in multiple legislative sessions, but it always brings an interesting debate about whether an exchange program would enable drug addicts or control the spread of HIV and hepatitis.
Another bill would increase disclosure of campaign donations for "specific-purpose committees" who support or oppose a candidate in an election.
On Tuesday, the House will hear a couple of bills aimed at strengthening Texas' ban on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to legalize gay marriage within the coming months, and the House is working to prevent Texas from being required to abide by such a ruling. The most controversial bill regarding same-sex marriage would prohibit any state, county or city employees from issuing, enforcing or recognizing a same-sex marriage, even if a federal law says prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Currently, 13 states ban same-sex marriage.
The legislative session ends June 1.