Senator Wentworth says "Watch these bills, they may become law! "

 

Senator Wentworth column                                        Contact: Margaret Patterson

For immediate release/March 16, 2007                                      (210) 826-7800

 

Watch these bills, they may become law!

 

by Jeff Wentworth

State Senator, District 25

 

            Many Texans take little interest in the thousands of bills introduced during a legislative session until they become laws.

            A bill follows a circuitous route as it moves through the Legislature, and even Texans who are interested in government often find themselves confused by the process.  Following a bill may be frustrating, especially when the most vital piece of information, the bill number, is not included in media reports.

            A bill is assigned a number when it is filed that can be used to track it on the Internet or by calling the bill status toll-free hotline at (877) 824-7038.  The Texas Legislature’s Web site, www.capitol.state.tx.us, includes instructions on how to search for bills, look up bills and follow bills.  There is even an e-mail alert service on bills that are of particular interest to you. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us

            Senators and representatives introduce bills during the first 60 days of a regular session, which began this year on January 9.  On March 9, the last day to file a bill this session, 3,977 bills had been filed in the House of Representatives and 1,933 in the Senate.

            This total of 5,910 bills is more than in either of the two previous regular sessions and does not include locals bills that affect only a specified area and which are still being filed.

            After a bill is assigned a number and read in either the Senate or the House, it is referred to a committee comprised of senators or representatives.  No bill may become law without having been referred to a committee, which hears public testimony and votes on each bill.  Unless a majority votes “yes,” the bill dies in committee and is never debated by the full Senate or House of Representatives.  Most bills, usually about 80% of them, die in committee.

            I chair the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence and serve on the Administration, Intergovernmental Relations, and the Transportation and Homeland Security committees.

            Bills approved by committees must pass both the Senate and the House and be signed by the governor to become law.  If the governor vetoes a bill while the Legislature is in session, his veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House.  The Texas Constitution provides that the governor must return vetoed legislation within 10 days or it becomes law; however, the governor is exempted from this action if the Legislature has adjourned.

            Many bills are sent to the governor near the close of the legislative session when a gubernatorial veto cannot be reviewed before the Legislature adjourns.

            To ensure that legislators have the opportunity to review legislation the governor vetoes, I filed Senate Joint Resolution 28.  This resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to require legislators to return to Austin for three days after a session to consider overriding vetoes of the governor.

            I encourage you to become involved in the legislative process.  Do not permit 150 representatives and 31 senators to spend 140 days passing bills that affect your life without letting us know how you feel about them.

          

          

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