From the 86th – Deadlines Loom Heavy

We have 25 days left of the 2019 Texas Legislative Session.  In some circles that can still sound like plenty of time. 

What can’t get done in almost a month? 

But in legislative speak these last 25 days are getting dicey, fast.

Partly because it isn’t really 25 days for all types of bills.  For all remaining House bills the deadline is next Thursday, May 9.  If you have a House bill and don’t get it to the floor by midnight next Thursday, its dead.  Starting next week, the clock will begin to claim its first victims.  And with more than 1,200 bills currently stacked up in Calendars with more bills franticly trying to get voted out of committee to join them, it is crowded and competitive to squeeze your bill out and give it a chance on the floor before it’s too late.

These deadlines are a double edge sword.  For a lot of bills, we have been watching and working that we are less than thrilled about, the killing clock can’t come soon enough.  But when you are trying to work to shepherd you baby to the governor’s desk that same clock goes tick-tock in your head as every second goes by.

One of our main proactive priorities is to continue our advocacy on HB 2546 related to energy code equivalency for modular homes. Thankfully this bill is through the House.  But that is just half the battle.  Now it must make its way all the way through the Senate.  While the Senate doesn’t have deadlines that are as strict or come as soon, it is still no easy feat to advance a bill as session winds down.

Lastly, desperate times always call for creative moves.  Experience helps us the most in these times.  As bills start dying left and right starting next week, desperate legislators will start searching for “vehicles” to amend and revive their bill language by attaching it to bills further along in the process and still alive.  The intensity of the next two dozen days is tough to describe.  The challenge is to watch everything and anything that is a possible vehicle, and then stand ready at a moment’s notice when amendments start being tacked on.  Generally, during the session amendments can come in many stages, but as things wind down all eyes turn to actions on the floor. 

How do we do this?  Well, many times this is when our good relationships with members and their staff prove to be the most valuable.  We can get advanced notices from our friends.  But the bulk of monitoring occurs in the gallery above the chambers, watching bills, watching who walks up to the microphone to offer an amendment and then get ahold of that language as quickly as possible.

And, of course, while our primary focus is defense to make sure nothing bad that has died on its own is revived on another bill via an amendment, there can be moments of…creative opportunity.