From the Montgomery County Republican Chairman: How Does a Bill Become Law in Texas?
The Texas Legislature meets only on odd years. It is comprised of two chambers–the House and the Senate. Each chamber has a presiding officer. In the House, the Speaker is elected by the House Representatives. The presiding officer of the Senate is the Lt. Governor which is elected by you every four years.
If a bill is to have any real chance of succeeding it must be introduced in the first 60 days (there are some narrow exceptions). Once that has been introduced, the presiding officer will refer the bill to a committee where it is researched, debated, and ultimately voted on. While in committee, the bill is often exposed to public hearings. This is one of the best ways to make your voice heard on proposed legislation.
If the committee decides to move forward with the bill, a report is sent to a separate committee which schedules the bill to be brought before the full body. Should the bill progress this far, it is open to further debate and amendment by a simple majority. At this point the members may vote to pass the bill which subjects it to a third stage. Having reached this phase, amendments require a 2/3 vote. If a majority of the body votes to pass the bill at this stage it is sent over to the other chamber of the Legislature where it roughly follows the same process.
Should the bill clear all of the hurdles from the other chamber, it returns to the originating chamber–along with any amendments. The originating chamber has the option to agree with the changes or work out the differences in a conference committee.
The purpose of a conference committee is to workout differences in the language between the bill as it was passed in each chamber. Assuming the variations can be reconciled, a report is presented by each chamber for a full vote by the body. Upon receiving an affirmative vote from the body, the presiding officer of each chamber sends the bill to the governor’s desk.
And that, my friends, is how a bill can become a law through the Texas Legislature. If it sounds like a complicated process, it most definitely is, as it should be. Creating laws for our great state has lasting ramifications that affect most Texans. It would be unwise to make such decisions without serious vetting and a thorough honing process.