Austin, TX – Today, State Representative John Raney (Bryan/College Station) filed HJR 152 that would allow Texans to vote on a constitutional amendment to modernize the organization and procedures of the Texas Legislature.
Currently, the Texas Legislature convenes its regular session on the second Tuesday of January in odd numbered years for 140 days. A provision in the Texas Constitution added in 1930 prohibits legislators from passing bills relating to non-emergency items in the first 60 days, which translates to approximately 40% of a session’s duration.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 1930 population of Texas was 5.84 million, compared to 29.36 million today. There were minimal methods of communication, few easily-traveled roads, and limited modes of travel. In that era, the 1930 provision made sense. It no longer makes sense today.
Nineteen states have a constitutional provision that requires their Legislatures to meet prior to the first day of the session for organizational purposes, and even more states hold informal meetings of this nature.
- Removes the provision that prevents action on legislation within the first 60 days of a regular session;
- Requires an organizational meeting in Austin in December preceding a regular session to include swearing-in of legislators, election of officers, and adoption of rules; and
- Establishes the first day of a regular session as the deadline for committee assignments by the presiding officer of the Senate and the House.
“As representatives of the people, it is crucial for us to make the best use of our limited time in Austin. Organizational standards of the Texas Legislature have not been updated in more than 90 years. I think it‘s time we have a say in the efficiency of their government,” said Rep. Raney.
To stay up to date on the progress of HJR 152 or for more information, visit www.capitol.texas.gov.