Texas Lobby Group Report: The Texas 83rd Legislative Session is Underway
With 44 new House members and five new Senators, the new Session begins with a bunch of new faces!
The composition of the Legislature is still strongly Republican and more Conservative. The House of Representatives has 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats. The Senate has 19 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Senator Mario Gallegos passed away on October 16, 2012. He was re-elected in the General Election so a special election will be held to fill his seat.
The pre-filing of bills, which began 60 days ago, is at an all time low. Part of the reason for this is because of all of the new faces. To date, fewer total bills and resolutions have been filed this session than all others (except for SBs in the 76th) since the 73rd.
The below chart breaks down the total number of bills/resolutions filed by the start date of Session for the past twenty years.
Total Bills/Resolutions Filed
|Total HBs Filed||Total SBs Filed|
As expected, Joe Straus easily reclaimed his Speakership, this time without opposition. Lt. Governor Dewhurst will remain as the presiding officer of the Senate; Rick Perry has two years left in his current term as Governor.
As for the budget outlook, it’s much rosier than past Sessions. Instead of a dramatic shortfall, Texas revenues are up 12.4 percent to $101 billion, including an $8.8 billion surplus. The rainy day fund will have $11.8 billion available. That being said, the Conservative legislature is not keen on new spending. There also remain some holes from last Session’s budget that need to be filled. Medicaid – which is facing a $4.6 billion shortfall from the current biennium- is one such program that is likely to gobble up a big chunk of that surplus.
For more on the opening day of the Session and for bills filed and additional information on the Legislature, go to www.capitol.state.tx.us.