Texplainer

Hey, Texplainer: How do I know if my bill died?

Have a bill you want to check up on? Here's how to check the Texas Legislature Online website to see if a bill you were following this session survived.

Bills stack up on the Senate dais on May 24, 2017.  The Senate is facing a midnight deadline to consider House bills less than a week before the end of the 85th Legislature. 

Texplainer

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After 140 days, Texas lawmakers sent more than 1,000 bills to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. But the vast majority of bills filed in the 85th legislative session never made it out of the chambers (or even got a committee hearing).

While the first few months of session were slow, bill-killing deadlines piled up toward the end. The first in a series of red-letter days was May 11, a deadline for most House-originated bills to win tentative approval — where several measures died in what became known as the “Mother’s Day Massacre.”

Those bills' authors had to find other ways — Senate bills, amendments, emergencies or parliamentary magic — to keep their proposals moving. So how do you know if your bill survived or how it died? Here’s a primer.

Finding dead bills

First, go to Texas Legislature Online and enter your bill under “Search legislation,” starting with “SB” if it is a Senate bill or “HB” if it is a House bill.

Once the bill page loads, check the “last action” section. If the bill hasn’t been sent to or signed by the governor, it's dead.

To find out exactly how a bill died, click the “bill stages” tab to see when and where the measure stalled.

Finding survivors

If the last listed action on your bill is “left pending in committee,” there’s a chance it survived as a similar measure tacked onto another bill that did make the cut. 

For example, House Bill 2159 by state Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, would’ve banned school districts from identifying students short on money in their school lunch accounts and allowed families a grace period to resolve negative meal card balances. Giddings’ bill died in the “Mother’s Day Massacre” but, a version of it eventually passed as an amendment to a separate measure.

To find out if your bill was revived with a different piece of legislation, you can call the bill author’s office to see if they tacked their original proposal onto a different measure. (You can always find contact information for your representative in The Texas Tribune’s elected officials directory.)

A few readers sent in specific questions around certain bills or issues. Here are your answers: 

  • Whatever happened to Senate Bill 1620, this session? Did it die in the House? The bill never got a House vote.
  • Was there a vote on House Bill 2107, medical marijuana? The bill never got a House vote.
  • Has there been a final vote by the House and Senate on SB 451 and HB 2551 on short-term rentals? Neither of these bills made it to the governor’s desk.
  • What is the status of the elimination of vehicle inspections? SB 1588 and HB 3995? Though SB 1588 was passed by the Senate, it never made it out of the House. The House version of the bill did not get a floor vote at all.

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