On the Records: Lege Council's Take on Bill Trends
A representative for the Texas Legislative Council, which helps lawmakers research and draft bills, won't speculate on why proposed and passed legislation has risen sharply in the last two decades. But it's one reason the agency has expanded its legal division over the years, she says.
For today's story on the increasing numbers of bills and resolutions considered at the Texas Capitol over the years, we interviewed a few experts and current and former lawmakers. We didn't, however, get to talk to one body that's uniquely affected by the demand: the Texas Legislative Council.
The council helps lawmakers draft bills, provides research support and runs the legislative computer system. It also draws political maps during decennial redistricting. We asked a council spokeswoman, Anne Billingsley, for theories about what's driving the increase in legislation — and how it affects the agency. She declined to address the first question but e-mailed this statement about the latter:
An increase in client demand is just one of a variety of reasons the council legal division has expanded over the past 20 years. For example, since 1989 it has been a division goal to ensure that in every substantive legislative drafting area there are several attorneys with relevant expertise. This permits the division to maintain expertise over the years, despite retirements and other staff departures. This expertise allows the council to provide a higher quality product to our clients in the legislature.
While the council is constantly working to improve its services, it is important to recognize that quantity, quality, and speed are always at a premium during a legislative session, regardless of the number of legislative documents ultimately considered by the legislature.
If you missed it, be sure to check out our interactive graphic, which allows you to select specific bill types and track the trends since 1991. You can also compare totals by bills filed, bills passed and bills vetoed. Let us know if you have thoughts about the story or ideas for other visualizations — and be sure to follow @TribData on Twitter.
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