Texas House of Representatives approaching deadline to pass bills

AUSTIN - Texas Legislature veterans are keen to a resounding sound heard in the House Chamber Monday, the sound of bills dying. 

"Today's the last day, said Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland). 

Monday is the 119th day of the 85th Texas Legislative Session -- mjaking it the last day House bills can be heard and voted out of committee.

"And even if you vote them out today, they really don't have much of a chance," said Craddick. 

Representative Craddick, who formerly served as Speaker of the House, is the longest-serving member of the Texas House. He was voted into office back in 1968 and has seen a lot of bills come and go.

He can easily explain the process to pass bills in the House. 

"Committees will meet and they'll review the bill and decide whether to pass it or not pass it. If they pass it out of the committee then it goes to what we call our calendars committee that sets it for floor debate," Craddick explained. 

That's why Monday on the House floor, lawmakers huddled around desks to hold committee meetings and vote bills out.

But Craddick said even if a bill can get through and the calendar committee schedules it for the floor, time is not on the bill's side.

"We're still on Friday bills. And it's Monday. So it'll back up," he explained. 

And there's another deadline looming; Thursday is the last day representatives can vote to pass a House bill.

"After that, you can only pass Senate bills," Craddick said.

But all hope isn't lost. Some House bills have identical versions filed in the Senate, which means they could still be considered. And lawmakers have ways of sliding bills in on the House floor.

"A lot of people will start putting their bills on other bills as amendments," said Craddick. "So you see bills that are sometimes four and five bills."

But keep in mind, the legislative system is designed to kill bills and there are opposition tactics.

"You'll see a lot of what we call 'chubbing,' there'll be people asking questions and doing things just to prevent us from getting a bill down the calendar at this point."

So as the clock ticks, bills die. And for the next four days, every second counts.

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