Site icon GovExperts

Legislative How To: A Step By Step Guide to Texas Lawmaking

How Does a Bill Become a Law in Texas?
How Does a Bill Become a Law in Texas?

To understand Texas lawmaking, you need knowledge of the legislative process dictated by the state constitiution, laws, and legislative rules. The Texas Legislature, a bicameral body composed of a 150-member House and a 31-member Senate, plays a crucial role in the complex journey from draft to legislation. 

In Texas, legislation begins with a bill draft, followed by a formal introduction, then review and refinement by committee, and then floor action in each chamber. Ultimately, Governor decides whether to sign, veto, or allow a bill to become law without his signature. As we explore Texas lawmaking, we will  navigates through each step-in detail, shedding light on the critical roles of each chamber, committee deliberations, and the governor’s power to veto or sign a bill into law. 

Bill Drafting

Every piece of legislation startes with an idea and then moves along a structured process, including drafting, introduction, filing, and committee referral: 

  1. Drafting 
  1. Introduction and Filing 
  1. Committee Referral

This structured approach ensures thorough consideration and evaluation for every bill, reflecting the intricate checks and balances inherent in Texas’s legislative process. 

Committee Review and Recommendations 

After first reading and referral, the assigned committee takes over the bill’s procedural journey. This process follows several key steps: 

Floor Action and Passage 

In the complex journey of a bill becoming law in Texas, the floor action and passage stage is pivotal. This phase entails potential debate and amendments, reflecting the democratic spirit of the legislative process. 

  1. Second Reading: Debate occurs on the bill, and members may propose amendments 1
  1. Third Reading: The bill undergoes a final debate and vote for passage.  A bill may still be amended, albeit with a higher threshold vote. 
  1. Under current practice, a bill can only be considered on the Senate floor with a written notice of intent by the senate sponsor to suspend regular business . This procedural step underscores the Senate’s structured approach to legislative deliberation. 
  1. Amendments and Reconciliation: If passed in the opposite house with amendments, the bill returns to the originating chamber. Here, it can either accept the amendments or request a conference committee to reconcile differences . 
  1. Conference Committee. With five members from each chamber, this committee aims to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill . 

This process, from floor deliberation to potential gubernatorial approval, provides an opportunity for elected representatives to thoroughly review each bill.

Governor’s Desk to Law 

Upon reaching the governor’s desk, a bill in Texas faces its final hurdle before becoming law. The process at this stage involves several critical decisions and timelines: 

  1. Signature: The governor can sign the bill, officially making it law.  
  1. Veto: The governor may veto the bill, rejecting it. If the legislature is still in session when the bill was passed, it requires a two-thirds majority in each house to override this veto. 
  1. No Action: If the governor neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it automatically becomes law 2
  1. Standard Timeline: By default, a bill becomes effective on the 91st day after the session’s adjournment unless it specifies otherwise . 
  1. Immediate Effect. Some bills may specify an immediate effective date or another specific date, . The effective date often aligns with the state’s fiscal year beginning on September 1. 
  1. Before reaching the governor, the bill is enrolled and signed by the presiding officers of both chambers in their respective members’ presence. This formalizes the bill’s passage through the legislature and precedes its submission to the governor . 

This structured approach ensures a clear pathway for bills from the legislature to the governor’s desk, outlining the governor’s options and the bill’s potential journey into law. 


 In our analysis, we’ve explored the journey of a bill becoming law in Texas, shedding light on its essential stages from inception to the governor’s desk. It underscores the critical need for a deep understanding of the legislative process. 

At GovExperts, we’re happy to talk about your public policy objectives and how you can successfully navigate the Texas legislative process. 

Exit mobile version