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Did Lawmakers Really ‘Run Out of Time’?

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The 87th Legislative Session has concluded, much to the chagrin of many activists across the state who believe that little was done in the interests of many of the issues they hold important.

But did lawmakers really “run out of time” to pass conservative priorities?

The legislature is allotted 140 days to complete their work for a regular legislative session.

The first 60 days preclude them from considering any legislation that is not an emergency priority of the governor’s according to Article 3, Section 5 of the Texas Constitution. Even then, it is up to the legislature to determine what technically fits into the broad policy area the governor lays out.

This legislative session began on January 12 and ended on May 31. The bill filing deadline was on March 12, or day 60 of the 140-day session, but most legislators had the ability to pre-file bills since November 9 of 2020, or 64 days before the session began.

Governor’s Emergency Legislative Priorities

Gov. Greg Abbott gave his biennial state of the state address on Feb 1; a whole 20 days after the legislature had convened. This allowed for about 35 days or so for the legislature to solely focus on those issues. It’s true that a severe winter storm precluded them from doing so in mid-February and certainly changed the focus of leadership in both legislative chambers.

The emergency priorities laid out by the governor included expansion of broadband services to rural and underserved areas of the state, preventing the local defunding of law enforcement, reforming bail practices, election integrity, and business liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits. After the severe winter weather in February, the governor added reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the winterization of power generation facilities across the state to his list of priorities.

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