Sunday Evening at The Lege

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While the rest of us were enjoying three days off, our 84th Texas Legislature was hard at work over the Memorial Day weekend. Our state’s elected representatives, affectionally known as “the Lege” (pronounced ledge), only meets for 140 days on odd-numbered years (although governors can call them back to Austin for special sessions). The Lege is working overtime to finish before this year’s regular session ends on Monday, June 1.

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The Texas House has 150 members who serve two-year terms. When I visited on Sunday evening, the House chamber was noisy and bustling with activity. The current Speaker of the House, Joe Strauss, was on the podium, but didn’t always direct the proceedings. Senate Bill 202 (“Relating to the transfer of certain occupational regulatory programs and the deregulation of certain activities and occupations.”) was being discussed, along with two proposed amendments. One amendment was approved, the other was not, and SB202 was approved for Passage to Third Reading. I think that means the bill went back to a committee for more revision and discussion.

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On the other side of the Capitol building, the Texas Senate chamber was all business and much quieter. The Senate has only 31 members serving four-year terms. The Lieutenant Governor, currently Dan Patrick, serves as presiding officer and Secretary of State Patsy Spaw oversees the Senate’s operations. These two were leading Sunday evening’s session.

During my hour in the House chamber, one bill, two amendments, and some related motions were discussed and voted on. Less than half of the House members were seated at their desks, but the front boards showed everyone as voting each time, so I assume there was some remote mechanism for registering a vote. I only spent a half-hour in the Senate chamber, but during that time they approved five bills, one amendment, and some procedural suspensions. Many of the senators were absent from the room, so I suspected that bills and votes had been hashed out earlier, and the formal results were just being entered for the Senate record.

The Lege is working on all sorts of bills this session. Here’s an amusing summary compiled by The Texas Tribune: The 84th Legislature in 14 Emojis.

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