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86th Texas Legislative Session Begins

Advocacy, TLA News

Members of the Texas Legislature have returned to Austin the 86th Legislative Session. Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) was elected Speaker of the House on January 9, and Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick were sworn into office on Tuesday, January 15.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar provided the revenue estimate for the 2020-2021 biennium.

Legislators will have $119.1 billion in general revenue funds for the next budget; an increase of about 8% over the last biennium. However, Hegar mentioned falling oil prices last month, and increased uncertainty in the U.S. economy (tariffs, etc.) and international financial markets as areas of concern despite the increase, “We remain cautiously optimistic but recognize we’re unlikely to see continued revenue growth at the unusually strong rates we’ve seen in recent months.”

The midterm election results seem to have had an impact on the rhetoric and tone leading into this session. According to the Texas Tribune, “This upcoming session feels a bit different than when the Legislature last convened two years ago. Instead of talk centering on hot-button social issues such as the “bathroom bill,” lawmakers are focusing on bread-and-butter measures like school finance and property tax reform. And instead of tensions already surfacing between the House and Senate, lawmakers across the ideological spectrum are saying they’re optimistic about the next 140 days.”

Speaker Bonnen and Lt. Governor Patrick are expected to make committee appointments before the end of January at the latest. Once committees are appointed, the pace of work at the Capitol will pick up significantly. If you are interested in tracking bills, committee hearings, etc., you can create a free  Texas Legislature Online account. TLA will share updates and calls for action throughout the session.