With the 86th Texas Legislature opening in just a few days, lawmakers will soon begin selecting leaders, debating rules, and setting in motion their priorities for the session. Here are some upcoming dates, stories, and events to watch:
Legislature Convenes and Approves Rules. The 86th Texas Legislature will convene at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 and is expected to vote quickly on House and Senate Resolutions to adopt temporary rules – in past sessions, permanent rules have been filed and approved by both chambers within a few days of convening.
The House Elects a Speaker. The House of Representatives will formally elect Representative Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, as Speaker of the House. The House typically selects its speaker on the first day of session.
Inauguration and Oaths of Office for Gov. and Lt. Gov. Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick will take their oaths of office and be sworn in on January 15that 11:00 AM.
State of the State Address. The Texas Constitution requires the governor to deliver to the legislature an address on the condition of the state and make recommendations for areas of attention by the legislature. Governor Abbott will deliver the State of the State Address within the first few weeks of the session – last year, the address was delivered on January 31. During this address the Governor will have the opportunity to name emergency items, these items may be brought during the first 60 days of the session. Otherwise, all legislation is barred form being passed before the two-month mark. It is rumored that property tax reform, one of the Governor’s priority measures, will be named an “emergency item.”
Filing Deadline. The last day to file bills other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and emergency matters submitted by the governor is the 60th day of the legislative session on March 8, 2019. As of today, 294 Senate bills and 951 House bills have been filed for the upcoming session. For more information on bills filed to date, see Texas Legislature Online.
Biennial Revenue Estimate. The Comptroller of Public Accounts will deliver to the legislature an estimate of the state’s financial condition and expected revenue at the beginning of the regular session.
Special Elections. Governor Abbott has called special elections on January 29, 2019 for House Districts 79 and 145, which were vacated by former representative Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, and senator-elect Carol Alvarado, D-Houston respectively. The filing deadline for candidates was January 3 and early voting will begin on Monday, January 14.
In District 79, two candidates have emerged in the race to replace state Rep. Joe Pickett, who will step down from his post on Jan. 4: Art Fierro, chairman of the El Paso Community College board, and Dr. Michiel Noe, who served recently as a city representative.
Several candidates have stepped forward in District 145: Christina Morales, a local small business owner, Diana Davila, a member of the HISD Board of Trustees, Martha Fierro, a Republican candidate in the recent Senate District 6 Election, and Melissa Noriega, former Houston City Council Member. Melissa Noriega also served as temporary acting representative during the 79th Legislature while her husband, former Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, was deployed in 2005.
Happy New Year and 86th Session from Texas Lobby Group!