Along with their bully pulpits and control over the legislative process, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus had another valuable weapon in their efforts to influence the legislative session: low bill numbers.
While most bill numbers are assigned sequentially based on when they are filed, the speaker and the lieutenant governor traditionally award the lowest bill numbers to measures they view as priorities. The proposals that Straus selected for House Bills 1-20 and Patrick for Senate Bills 1-20 offered legislators and Capitol watchers a guide on where the two men were placing their political capital. The bills touched on some of the most contentious issues of the session, including gun rights, border security and school choice. (Straus never assigned three of his top 20 slots: HB 3, HB 16 and HB 17.)
Both Patrick and Straus managed to pass nearly all of their priority bills out of their respective chambers. But fewer than half of that total made it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Those that failed usually didn’t have enough support in the other chamber, or the two chambers passed different versions and a compromise couldn’t be hashed out in time.
Abbott ultimately signed 12 of the House’s top 20 bills and four from the Senate. That includes House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, the budget and supplemental budget that the two chambers alternate authoring each session. This session, it was the House’s turn.
While Patrick didn’t get as many of his priority bills to Abbott’s desk as Straus, House versions of several of Patrick’s priority bills did become law, with Senate leaders helping shape the final outcome.
Scroll down to see the various categories, the related bills and links to descriptions of related issues in our Texas Legislative Guide.