As the Texas Legislature enters the end of its session, some bills sit undisturbed, and could very well remain that way for all eternity. Although there are many ways a bill can die, from being voted down in the House or Senate to being vetoed by the governor, one of the easiest ways for a bill to face death is by doing absolutely nothing at all with it. These bills die quietly in committee for reasons that are discussed below.
Why Some Bills Are Ignored
The idea that partisan politics are the driving force behind stalled bills is a bit of a myth. Some bills lingering in committee this session are backed by bi-partisan groups and legislators. More often, bills are stalled in committee because legislators are locked in subtle, nuanced power struggles that may be detrimental to their public persona if played out publicly.
Other bills are ignored because they do little to disrupt an existing piece of legislation. For instance, bills that aim to undo legislation or those that challenge current court rulings, are often piecemeal. Legislators might draft several similar bills in the hopes that one might stick. One might. But chances are the slew of bills will linger in committee because they are redundant. They act as band-aids without offering a real alternative.
However, legislation that doesn't meet the light of day doesn't always have to die. Portions of smaller bills may receive a second chance at life in the form of an amendment on a more public, and popular, bill. Other bills might be completely redrafted. In their new form, these bills are stronger and may have even benefited from their time in committee purgatory.
When it comes to moving legislation, there are always second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances. When strategy fails, persistence can be key.
Attorney Jake Posey and the team at the Posey Law Firm in Austin follow developments in the Texas legislature and can help you build a solid legislative strategy for your issue.