Week 9 Update – 86th Session
Winter weather hit Austin in the first week of March, but bill filing really warmed up the inside of the Capitol. Unprecedented numbers of bills were filed close before the 6pm Friday deadline. Over 900 bills were filed on Thursday alone. Total for the week was over 2,000, which is typically about 1/3 of the bills filed each session. This massive number of bills will clog up committees in the next 2 months as they race to get bills heard. The total number of bills filed so far in the House is 4,627, which surpasses the record from last Session of 4,333. The Senate has filed about 150 more bills than last Session.
Bills filed last week
WEEK’S TOTAL 2,992
In other Session news, things are still moving slowly on the House and Senate floors. Only two bills have passed the Senate, and no bills have passed the House. SB3, raises for teachers, passed in the Texas Senate this week, and SB 10, a bill that creates a mental health consortium and one of the Governor’s emergency items, also passed. The property tax bill, SB 2, has still not been brought to the Senate floor for debate. No bills have passed the full House.
In school finance, one the big issues of the session, Rep. Huberty unveiled his school finance plan on Tuesday. Sen. Taylor is expected to introduce SB4, his school finance bill on Friday. There seems to be some tension between the House and Senate as they compare plans.
In committee action, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, advocated for her SB 421 that would change existing eminent domain laws in Texas regarding private companies’ use of eminent domain laws in constructing large utility projects, including oil and gas pipelines. Her bill faces opposition from oil and gas interests, the Texas Association of Business, Texas Central Railway, and others. Kolkhorst said the bill is designed to encompass areas that would, “provide transparency and accountability to the eminent domain process in Texas while also preventing these companies from making exceedingly low offers for the people’s land.” The bill would also address minimum easement terms, local meetings of landholders, and additional damages if the additional offer from the company is too law, Sen. Kolkhorst said, adding “We require more transparency and standards for our public entities to take your land than we do for for-profit entities.”