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Monday, May 9, 2011

Semana de los Muertos

The eighteenth week of the Regular Session is always an interesting one. At midnight tonight, House bills that have not been reported from committee are no longer eligible for further consideration. By 10 p.m. tomorrow night, the final House calendar for Thursday must be set. Midnight on Thursday is the last day a non-local House bill can pass the House on Second Reading. If a non-local House bill is not set on the calendar by Thursday, or if it does not pass the House by midnight Thursday, it is dead.

In addition to procedural deadlines, chubbing also takes its toll on House bills this week. Chubbing is a legislative delay tactic in which legislators talk at length on every bill on the calendar in order to kill most of the calendar or a bill further down the calendar.

Finally, the Texas House reached a boiling point last Saturday. In one of the most raucous House sessions since 2003, the Republicans employed the nuclear option and called the previous question on a tort reform bill that the Democrats were successfully delaying on procedural grounds. Once the previous question was called, no further debate or amendment was permitted and the bill passed.

For all of these reasons this will be the week of dead bills in the Texas House -- Semana de los Muertos.