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Accomplishments of the 82nd Texas Legislature

The 82nd Texas Legislature accomplished a lot in 2011. Led by Republican leaders in the Texas House of Representatives, lawmakers passed historic legislation like Voter ID, “loser pays” tort reform, the State Health Care Compact and legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. Most importantly, legislators balanced the state’s budget with the first overall decrease in state…

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82nd Regular Session Wrap Up

Since we are still working in the special session, there is work to be done and highlights yet to come. However, before we get too far past the end of the regular session, we need to reflect on what we accomplished in the 140 days of the session. More was done than people might realize…

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Working with Our Senate Colleagues

You’ve been reading the last few weeks about our activities to pass bills through the House. But the work doesn’t stop there, as many folks know. For a bill to become law, it must pass both the House and Senate and be signed (or at least not vetoed) by the Governor. There are few hard…

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What Happens in a Committee Meeting?

Much of the “heavy lifting” we do in the Legislature occurs in the committee process. We can go into more depth on the topics and witnesses can provide valuable testimony. We have 38 different committees, each with its own scope. As an example, all State revenue bills, adjustments to the tax code, appraisal bills and…

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Sunset 101

As we get into the more major issues facing Texas, we will soon start to see “Sunset Bills.” These are unique in scope, content and process. And their impact can range from minimal to the complete elimination of an agency so they really command attention. Each session a number of state agencies undergo review by…

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Your Bill Has Passed Committee — Now What?

Previously we wrote about the process of drafting legislation and all the steps required to get it through the assigned committee. That is a lot of work and a significant accomplishment but the next stages are even more challenging. All bills are sent to one of our two Calendars: the General Calendar or the Local…

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Redistricting – A View From Inside the Process

Every ten years we are required to redraw our political boundaries. Following the census, cities, counties, school districts all draw their own lines. In the State Legislature, we draw the State House and Senate district maps plus those for the State Board of Education and our US Congressmen and Congresswomen. Much fanfare has been made…

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Passing My Legislative Package in Three Easy Steps

One of my favorite move scenes is from the comedy Airplane. A stewardess has to take over flight operations for the incapacitated crew in a damaged plane. Looking over dozens of dials and gauges and complicated controls, and waiting attentively for her detailed flight instructions from the control tower, Finally she is told, “Land the…

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Life After Session

Memorial Day marks the end of the 82nd Session but not of our work as legislators. There is a possibility of a special session (covered in last week’s column) but there is far more ahead for us. By working into detail on major issues between now and January 2013, we can address matters in a…

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Overtime: A Note from Jim…

It’s really called a Special Session, but to most of us, it feels more like overtime. We just completed the 140-day regular session and on the very next day, we started our Special Session. There is no firm end date but if you read last week’s column, you know that it cannot be more than…

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