The Constitution of the State of Texas sets out a meticulously structured legislative process that ensures every proposed bill undergoes thorough scrutiny before becoming a law. With a rigorous process, the Texas Legislature ensures enactment of only the most well-considered and necessary legislation.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how a bill becomes a law in Texas:
Introduction of the Bill
Any member of the Texas Legislature, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate, can introduce a bill during a legislative session. The chief clerk of the House or secretary of the Senate then assigns and reads the number and caption aloud for the first time.
Referral to Committee
After the first reading, the Speaker of the House or the Lieutenant Governor in the Senate refer the bill to a relevant committee. This committee specializes in the subject matter of the bill, such as education, finance, or health.
The committee reviews the bill, holds public hearings, and gathers testimonies from experts, stakeholders, and the general public. This is a crucial stage as it allows for in-depth scrutiny and possible amendments to the bill.
After deliberation, the committee votes on the bill. If approved, the committee sends the bill, along with a committee report detailing the committee’s findings and recommendations, back to the chamber where it originated.
During second reading, members debate the bill and may propose further amendments. An amendment requires a simple majority at this stage. If the bill passes this stage, it advances to a third and final time on a subsequent legislative day. Amendments on third reading require a two-thirds vote.
After the third reading, the presiding officer of the chamber calls a vote. If the legislation receives a majority vote, it moves to the other chamber (from House to Senate or vice versa) and goes through a similar process.
If the second chamber approves a different version of the bill, the measure goes back to the originating chamber for concurrence. If the originating chamber does not concur, then the presiding officer of each chamber appoints a conference committee comprising members from both chambers to reconcile the differences. Both chambers must then approve the reconciled version.
Once both chambers pass the bill in identical form, it is sent to the Governor of Texas. The Governor has three options:
- Sign the bill: This enacts it into law.
- Veto the bill: This rejects the bill. However, the Legislature (if still in session) can override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote from both chambers.
- Take no action: If the Legislature is still in session and the Governor does not sign or veto the bill within 10 days (excluding Sundays), it automatically becomes law.
- Publication and Implementation
If the Legislature has adjourned Sine Die, the Governor has 20 days to decide whether to sign, veto, or allow to become law without signature.
Once signed or enacted without a veto, the bill is assigned a chapter number and published in the Texas statutes. It becomes effective either immediately, on a specific future date, or 90 days after the legislative session ends, depending on its provisions.
In conclusion, the journey of a bill becoming a law in Texas is a comprehensive process that involves multiple stages of review, debate, and public participation. This rigorous system ensures that the laws enacted serve the best interests of the citizens of Texas.
At GovExperts, we’re happy to talk about your public policy objectives and how you can leverage the Texas legislative process.