We are now 52 days into the 140-day Legislative Session. And, nearly 2/5ths into this session and it continues to prove unlike any previous session in recent memory.
We are currently looking at a scaled down volume of bills filed from the typical 6,500-7,000 bills, but I’m guessing we still hit at least 5,500. As of this post we sit at 3,763 bills filed. According to Rob’s excellent bill tracking reports and indexes that he built, we are down -21% in total bills filled from the 2019 Session. The House bill filing is down -13.5%, while the Senate is down a more significant -37.1%.
The volume of bill filings is important and at the end of next week we will know the full spectrum of possible legislation for this session. And while we still expect a flood of last-minute bills to come in before the deadline, the overall decrease in bills filed tells us that the members are aware of the limitations, time compression, and thus the need to narrow their focus and prioritize efforts.
As we move into the next phase of the Session all work and attention shifts to committees. The committees this session have been particularly slow to get up and moving. This is in part due to COVID, the historic winter storm that shut down the state for a week, the then resulting political fallout and near-exclusive political focus for the weeks following the storm on Texas’s energy and water infrastructure, and then a shift into the declared emergency and priority items laid out by the state’s top leaders.
All of this has resulted in your run-of-the-mill committee work being pushed back about three to four weeks later than what we typically see. That might not sound like too much of a big deal but remember when the entirety of Session is just 21 weeks, losing time just further limits the opportunity and ability to get legislation passed. Bills will certainly die in droves, and not necessarily due to the policy or merits but based purely on the limitation of time. For any non-emergency bill to have a remote chance in this unique session it must fly through the process. Any delay could be fatal.
Your TMHA Lobby Team is tracking 141 bills that range from the catastrophic, to the resoundingly positive, and just about everything in between. As we get through next week and the filing deadline, we will update the membership on the bills we are supporting and working, and those that need our industry to rally into action to help defeat or advance.
As we move into this compressed committee work period, the rubber will finally meet the road.