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Texas Politics - The Legislative Branch
 
 
 
Norma Chavez talks about decriminalizing gambling on Indian tribal land Norma Chavez talks about decriminalizing gambling on Indian tribal land
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Captioned
Calendars Committee
filibuster
8.3    Floor action

House Action

Assuming a favorable committee report, the bill introduced in the House must be scheduled by one of two committees for floor debate:

  • The Local and Consent Calendar Committee is responsible for legislation impacting only a limited number of local jurisdictions (cities, counties, etc.), consent bills, and non-controversial resolutions.

  • The Calendars Committee is responsible for all other bills, placing them on one of three calendars: the Emergency Calendar, Major State Calendar, and General State Calendar.

The Calendars Committee has thirty days after receiving a bill to vote on placing the bill on one of the three legislative calendars for floor consideration. After this period, any member of the House can make a motion on the floor to place the bill on a specific calendar. If seconded by five members and passed by majority vote, the bill may be scheduled for floor action. This procedure is rarely undertaken.

When the bill comes up for consideration on the floor as scheduled, it is given the second reading (usually limited to reading only the caption). After debate (typically limited to ten minutes for each speaker) and amendment, a vote is taken for tentative approval.

After all the debate and amendments, the bill is ready for its third reading. Amendments may still be offered, but these require a two-thirds majority approval at this point. A simple majority is needed to pass the final version of the bill.

Senate Action

Lacking a calendars committee, the Senate relies on the Intent Calendar which schedules bills for general consideration in the order in which they are reported favorably out of committee. However, the Senate does not follow this order. At the beginning of the legislative session, a dummy bill (not intended for floor action) is placed at the top of the Intent Calendar, making it necessary to take up all other bills outside of the regular order.

To do this the sponsor of the bill or a member of the reporting committee must get recognition from the President of the Senate (the Lieutenant Governor) to make a motion to take up a bill outside of the Intent Calendar order. Two-thirds of the members who choose to vote must approve such an action.

If the bill is taken up by the Senate, it is given its second reading, at which point it is opened for debate and amendment. As in the U.S. Senate, there is a tradition in the Texas Senate that permits members to speak for as long as they wish (or otherwise can physically sustain). When members try to kill a bill by "talking it to death" and using up so much time that the rest of the Senate agrees to move on, this is known as a filibuster.

If the bill is approved on the second reading, it is ready for its third reading and, ultimately, final approval. As in the House, amendments are allowed at this point and require a two-thirds majority vote of members present.

Although the Texas Constitution requires that a bill receive each of its three readings on three separate days, this rule can be suspended by a four-fifths vote of members present. Though the House rarely uses this motion, it is routinely used in the Senate to pass non-controversial legislation, particularly toward the end of a legislative session.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 103
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