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State Rep. John Raney files bill to modernize Texas legislative procedures

In hopes to modernize legislature efficiency, State Representative John Raney has filed a House Joint Resolution.

BRYAN, Texas — HJR 152 would allow Texans to vote on a constitutional amendment to modernize the organization and procedures of the Texas Legislature.

Currently, the Texas Legislature convenes its regular session on the second Tuesday of January in odd-numbered years for 140 days. A provision in the Texas Constitution added in 1930 prohibits legislatures from passing bills relating to non-emergency items in the first 60 days.

“That means 40% of our session is gone before we even hear our first bill,” Rep. Raney said.

According to the US Census Bureau, the 1930 population of Texas was 5.84 million, compared to 29.36 million today. There were minimal methods of communication, a few easily traveled roads, and limited modes of travel. In that era, the 1930 provision made sense. It no longer makes sense today.

“Of course, there were no computers and transportation means during those days was difficult, bad roads, not very speedy transportation. Maybe there was a reason, there’s no reason for that [provision in 1930] any longer,” Re. Raney said.

19 states have a constitutional provision that requires their legislator to meet prior to the first day of the session for organizational purposes, and even more states hold informal meetings of this nature.

“We don’t get paid a whole lot but it cost money to be there, so let’s take advantage of that,” Rep. Rainey said.

HJR 152:

• Removes the provision that prevents action on legislation within the first 60 days of a regular session;

• Requires an organizational meeting in Austin in December preceding a regular session to include swearing in of legislatures, the election of officers, and adoption of rules; and

• Establishes the first day of a regular session as the deadline for committee assignments by the preceding officer of the Senate and the House.

To stay up to date on the progress of HJR 152 or for more information, visit www.capitol.texas.gov.