WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE CAPITOL?
There are now only 131 days left until the 83rd Texas Legislature adjourns Sine Die. The session convened with little fanfare other than the adoption of the procedural rules that govern each body.
The Senate voted to preserve the “two-thirds rule,” which requires that two-thirds of the body vote in favor of bringing a piece of legislation to the floor. The rule is designed to preserve the rights of the minority party. The Senate also made permanent the Senate Committee on Open Government. The committee was originally created last session as a “select” (i.e., temporary) committee.
The House, by acclamation, re-elected Joe Straus (R – San Antonio) to his third-term as Speaker of the House. The House also created the stand-alone House Committee on Pensions, which will have jurisdiction over public retirement systems.
Both the House and Senate have laid the groundwork for each chamber’s respective budget. The House is proposing to spend $89.1 billion in general revenue and a total of $187.7 billion from all fund sources. This represents a $2.2 billion decrease from 2012-2013 levels. The House proposal spends $5.5 billion less than is available under the comptroller’s biennial revenue estimate and $3.7 billion less than allowed by the state constitution’s spending limit. The Senate has proposed spending $88.9 billion in general revenue and $186.8 billion from all fund sources. This represents a decrease of $3.1 billion from 2012-2013 levels.
How this affects cities is yet to be determined. Neither chamber has appointed committee members. The session won’t heat up until that happens, but the number of bills being filed is steadily increasing.