The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.
Today's first question comes from Elle K. Smith:
How do you find out when a bill is up for consideration in the Legislature and when it will be voted on?
Ben Philpott: You know the state legislative website is honestly a very good tool for figuring out when things are going to come up. If you happen to know the bill's number you can very easily get on the website, type in whatever it is and do a search; the search box is right there in the dead center, kind of near the top of the main webpage, legislative website, and that will take you to the bill's overall page, which has tons of information on it, including the history, the text of the bill, the different actions that it's gone through (that means floor votes and such) and that will let you know underactions. Has it been sent to a committee? Has it been assigned to a House calendar to come up for a floor debate in the House? Has it been put on the intent calendar for the Senate? And what day has been put on that calendar? That's kind of an indication of how soon it may come up there in the Senate.
Jimmy Maas: There are specific windows of time when you can show up to give your own opinion on a certain bill whether you're just Joe Citizen or a member of a professional organization that needs to have their voice known. So why do you have to physically be at the state Capitol to register your opinion on a bill?
BP: Right. This was a question we got in from our ATX Explained app and there's one little flaw in the question. It's not that you're registering your opinion on the bill, you are signing up to give testimony on the bill at a legislative hearing, either Senate or House. Obviously, if you're not in Austin on that committee hearing day then you should not be registering because you would not actually be able to physically be at the hearing. So when you're doing that registration, again, it all goes back to: Are you there to speak for or against the bill, instead of just saying you are here giving an opinion for or against the bill.
JM: Thanks, Ben. That's KUT's Senior Editor Ben Philpott. Those are questions that came in through our Texas Decides project. If you have a question you'd like Ben to answer go to our website, KUT.org, and submit your question about the Texas Legislature. Thanks, Ben.
BP: Thank you.