Legislative Priority Report 3.19.2021
Spring is here, and, in that vein, in today’s report, I would like to give you a little inside baseball analogy. As you know, our strategy on the Legislative Priority Committee is to give you, the voter, all the tools you need to make your voice heard. And, we are having some success. Thanks to your oversight and engagement, we have more bills filed that address our Legislative Priorities this session than we did during the last session. That is excellent news because that means that our voices are being heard.
However, we are now at a critical juncture in the legislative process. Bill filing has ended and bills are now being assigned to committees. It is up to the chair of that committee to schedule a bill for a hearing. If a hearing occurs, the committee chair then must call for a vote on that bill. If a bill is not heard or voted on, then it dies in committee, which is what will happen to the majority of bills filed.
Your representative or senator can then go home and say that they did their part, they filed a bill you cared about, but it died in committee. This is true, but sometimes not the whole story. Sometimes there is an informal agreement that a bill is filed to give “cover,” but the bill will never come up for a hearing or vote. Many legislators like this, because then they don’t have to take a vote on the floor that may have unpleasant consequences for them.
For example, if leadership does not want a bill to pass, but a legislator votes for it anyway, they may not be rewarded with campaign money or a coveted committee position next session. The worst punishment that can occur is the representative or senator might even be “redistricted” out, meaning their district lines will be redrawn in such a way as they no longer will be able to represent their district, thus no longer being in the legislature. This is especially critical this session, as redistricting will occur in a special session, so the votes they take will have consequences.
So, what can we do to make sure our bills survive the committee process?
At this point, we must target our phone calls and emails to the committees. The chairs of the committees who hear our bills should be urged to schedule the bill. Please check to see if your state representative or senator is chairing a committee that has our Legislative Priorities. You can see the committee assignments here for the House and Senate.
You can see the bills we are currently supporting and the committees they are assigned to here. Then you can send those chairs an email or make a phone call urging them to schedule our bills for a vote. They must know we are watching for these bills to come up.
The other really important thing to know at this point is that the more co-authors a bill has on it, the more momentum it will have to get a committee hearing. Please urge your representative and senator to sign on as a co-author to our Legislative Priority bills. Feel free to send him or her a copy of our bills.
We can win when we know the rules of the game and use them to our advantage. Our government should not operate in the dark, where special interests are favored. When light is shed, good things happen and the citizens benefit.
- If your representative or senator is chairing a committee, contact them and tell them to schedule our Legislative Priority bills for a hearing. If they are just committee members, then urge them to support our bills.
- Urge your representative or senator to co-author our Legislative Priority bills.
As a reminder, we have all the information you need at the RPT website, under the dropdown menu #txlege. There you can find the sign-up for STAT, our email that gives you specific bill information for each priority.
There is also a digital guide to all our priorities, with the contact information included for each state representative and senator. You can download and print this booklet out if you prefer. It includes talking points and a sample email.
For God and Texas,
SREC, SD 12
Chair, SREC Legislative Priorities Committee
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