Texas House Lets 3,500 Bills Die

The Texas House adjourned shortly after a midnight deadline Thursday, leaving thousands of bills to wither away in the final stretch of the legislative session.

As the clock struck 12, lawmakers playfully acknowledged the expiration of almost 4,000 bills by playing Taps, the military bugle call.

A few minutes earlier, several marked the passing with an impromptu "memorial service." Bill authors stood in a receiving line at the front of the chamber, dabbing at their eyes with tissue and sympathetically hugging each other over the loss of their legislation.

The deadline means that House legislation not already adopted has expired. Unless they can be revived in another format, bills that die will most likely have to wait two more years for another chance to become law.

Of almost 5,000 bills filed at the beginning of the session, the House had passed more than 1,100 by Thursday. During the day's 15-hour session, lawmakers seemed in no rush, making it to the eighth page of a 25-page list of bills eligible for consideration.

Measures to expand casino gambling and an effort to prohibit colleges from banning concealed weapons license holders from carrying their weapons on campus were among the pieces of legislation that expired Thursday.

"For some people and their legislation, it's the end of the line," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. "For this session, they have no other options or alternatives to have it become law other than the House bill that will die on the calendar."

But, with more than two weeks left in the 140-day, biennial session, the House still has much work to do.

That's because several major Senate bills, already debated and approved in that chamber, have yet to be considered in the House and are still eligible.

Those include an effort to strengthen voter identification requirements, setting college tuition rates and an overhaul of the state agency that oversees insurance rates.

Sneaky lawmakers whose bills fell victim to the deadline can still try to attach versions of their legislation, in the form of amendments, to bills that are still in play.

"Everything's still alive," Coleman said. "These are the things that always come to the end game. All the deals are made all at one time."

That's because much of the remaining legislation will cost the state money. And the next two-year state budget is still being negotiated.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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