Now that our committees have been appointed, our schedules will become more regular and busier as we work towards our May 31 adjournment. The 38 committees will begin hearing bills; some will pass out of committee and be considered before the full House (aka “going to the floor”). And Senate bills will also start coming our way, further increasing our level of activity. So what does a daily schedule look like for an individual lawmaker? Here’s a rundown of a typical day for me in the weeks ahead.
6:00 am – Coffee (very important to me) and some quiet time for prayer and reflection. Then it’s a quick scan of overnight emails. If I don’t have an early meeting or breakfast, I’ll work out. My apartment is adjacent to the Town Lake running trail which is a great amenity.
8:00 am –Meeting with the Republican Policy Council to review bills scheduled for a vote on the House floor. Legislators and staffers team up to analyze legislation, consider possible changes and recommendations. With up to 50 bills to be voted in a single day in the later part of the session, this research becomes increasingly valuable to members. If the calendar is light, I will stop in our Capitol office to meet with my staff.
9:00 am – Committee meetings. In addition to attending our assigned committees ( I serve on Ways and Means and Business and Economic Development) , I will be moving among the committee hearing rooms to present my bills to the appropriate committees. In committee, we listen to testimony from supporters and opponents of specific bills, ask questions of the witnesses and authors, and determine if the bill should advance to the next stage, the Calendars committee which may set it for a floor vote.
10:00 am – Floor Session to consider bills passed by committees and set by the Calendars committee. A bill might take five minutes or five hours to be considered. So our session can vary widely in duration. We don’t have an ending time since we start and simply move down the list of scheduled bills.
12:00 PM ISH – Our schedule is now up for grabs and we will get a lunch break early in the session and later in the session, will see food brought in so we can work straight through. If the break is long enough, we will take time to touch base with our jobs back home, deal with emails and correspondence, and perhaps meet with constituents.
1:00 PM Floor session continues. While the bills are being debated, members are all over the House floor, talking to committee chairmen to get a hearing for their bills, buttonholing members to get support for a bill either on the floor or in committee, and working to amend, support or defeat bills and amendments. We also might walk across the Rotunda to the Senate to meet with one of our colleagues and check on a House bill being considered there or a Senate bill that is headed our way.
5:00 pm ISH End of floor session and continuation of unfinished morning committees and the start of the afternoon committees. The starting time is often posed as “upon adjournment” meaning that whatever time we finish the floor work; that is when we start our committee meeting. Our custom is to make sure that every committee completes its hearing in a single day so people who have come to Austin to testify for or against legislation are heard without being forced to stay over. This can make for a long day for everyone.
7:30 PM Return to Capitol office to debrief on that day’s activities, take care of correspondence, and prepare for the next day. I’ll take extra time to prepare if I am presenting a bill on the floor or in committee. This is also when I review the next day’s calendar and assign bill reviewing.
8:30 PM Opportunity to grab dinner with some colleagues if it is not too late. This really varies depending on how long the committee and floor work goes on. If we are still on the floor or in committee at this time, dinner is often provided. (Now you know why I need to work out!)
10:00 Back to the apartment and time to call home and try to catch up with my sons Pace and Robert and wife Kathleen before they go to bed. Wrap up any pending emails or calls and review committee and floor bills for the next day. In bed by 11:00 – usually. My final task is a prayer of thanks for this incredible responsibility and to seek guidance for our decisions.