CAPITOL UPDATE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2009
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385
What Happens During Legislative Session is Vast and Varied
The 81st Legislative Session that runs from Jan. 13 to June 1 will be full of excitement, long arduous hours of work and constant consensus-building.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will continue to preside over the Senate, while the House will have a new Speaker. By all accounts it appears likely that Rep. Joe Straus from San Antonio will be the nominee.
I look forward to working with the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker, as well as my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle and in both Chambers.
It is my opinion, as well as that of many in the public and private arenas, that the more we work in a cooperative fashion for the good of all Texans, the greater the likelihood that we will accomplish our goals. It is certainly my intent to do so.
Just as we begin to gear up, South Texas will host its 2009 Legislators' Tour from Jan. 22 to 25. The biannual event—the Legislature meets every odd-numbered year—is hosted by President and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Bill Summers, with many others providing assistance and input.
This year the tour will focus on Cameron and Willacy counties, but regardless of whether the tour takes place in the Upper or Lower Valley, the needs of all of South Texas will be presented. It is also an excellent opportunity for us to do as the old cliché suggests, "put our best foot forward" and let the rest of the Texas Legislature see first-hand that we are a thriving, vibrant community of hard-working individuals wanting to improve our own lives, that of our families and communities, and of the entire state. And we can show them we have the population, willpower and determination to do so. The well-organized and highly informative tour is a classic example of how we can work together, and often do, for the good of the area.
This part of the state will also be heavily impacted by what is approved in the state budget, which alternates each session as to its Chamber of origin. The appropriations bill will be heavily debated in both the Finance Committee, on which I sit, and the House Appropriations Committee, before it is finalized. Passing the state budget is really the only Texas Constitutional requirement for every legislative session. It is up to the State Comptroller to inform the Legislature every session of how much money we have to spend.
As part of the budget decision, our state agencies, universities and other state-funded entities will give us an accounting of their spending and submit their appropriations requests for the next biennium.
We will also be proposing, amending, voting on and passing or killing thousands of bills. Oftentimes a bill is amended onto another bill if it is germane. As of Jan. 7, we have filed 884 bills, and this is just a drop in the legislative bucket. The 80th Legislature filed 6,190 bills, passed 1,481 of them and the Governor vetoed 51 of those passed.
To keep up with what we're doing in Austin, you can log onto the Legislature online at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us and obtain extensive information on every bill filed, as well as on schedules for every committee, and for the full House and Senate. Alternatively, the Texas Bill Status at 877-824-7038 (toll-free) or 512-463-2182 will be available Jan. 13 at noon to coincide with the first day of session.
I look forward to this session and what it promises for South Texas. In the Senate we will also be confirming gubernatorial appointees to state boards, commissions and councils.
But my favorite part of this whole affair is welcoming our many groups and individuals to "their" Capitol, who come to either conduct business or just say hello and offer support. And I am always deeply touched and filled with pride when I honor constituents with memorial and congratulatory Senate Resolutions.
Every odd-numbered year I am reminded that serving in the Legislature is northing short of a privilege and an honor.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.