As the 85th Texas Legislature convenes in Austin on Tuesday, 181 lawmakers will fill the hallways of the Capitol. While the first day of the session won’t be hectic like the last few days, here are some things to keep an eye on:
1. Lawmakers being sworn in
Representatives will be sworn in at noon. There are 150 members in the House of Representatives and 31 members in the Senate.
2. House votes for Speaker
Joe Straus, who has been Speaker of the Texas House since 2009, has no public opposition. The House is expected to show interest in public education, and looking at school finances.
3. The Senate is expected to vote on their chamber rules, which will be similar to the ones from 2015
The Texas Senate’s rule would be a three-fifths rule, which makes it easier for the Republican majority to pass legislation. When it’s a two-thirds rule, the Senate needs 21 members to approve a bill before it can pass, whereas with the three-fifths rule, they only need 19; there are 20 Republicans in the Senate. The three-fifths rule allowed for Open Carry and Campus Carry to become law in 2015.
The Senate is led by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who has been interested in some of the hot button social issues. Patrick unveiled the “bathroom bill,” Senate Bill 6, which would require people to use the bathroom of the gender they were born as and not the gender they identify with.
Lawmakers might also have to start making cuts as the budget is significantly less for this legislative session. On Monday morning, Comptroller Glenn Hager said state lawmakers will have $104.9 billion over the next two years. While that seems like a lot of money, it is nearly a $10 billion drop from 2015’s $113 billion for the last legislative session. One reason for the drop in revenue is because of gas prices dropping.