By Ross RamseyThe TexasTribune
“Analysis: The 2023 session of the Texas Legislature has already begunwas first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that educates — and engages with — Texans about public policy, politics, government and issues in the world. statewide.
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We don’t yet know who will represent us on Capitol Hill, what positions or committee assignments they will hold, what their elections will look like, or what mindset they and the state will be in. But we’re getting the first glimpse of what the Texas Legislature will do when it meets next year — a combination of hard work and Mickey Mouse politics.
house tenant Dade Phelan and Lieutenant Governor. Dan Patrick have done their “interim assignments” — preparatory work for lawmakers during the break between legislative sessions in 2021 and what’s to come in 2023.
Both lists of studies are full of serious issues, problems and programs, such as state border security operations, making the power grid reliable and affordable, fixing the state’s shambolic foster care system, blockchain currencies, property tax relief, corporate tax relief, election law, prison air conditioning, and human trafficking.
At Phelan’s home listReleased just after last month’s primaries, he said he wanted extra focus on criminal justice and health care – a signal of his priorities.
Patrick’s announcement this week included 84 things senators need to work on – including major issues and many overlapping issues on the House list. He led with a lead question, ordering the Senate to investigate a rise in thefts of catalytic converters from cars and trucks, suggesting the proposal is named after a sheriff’s deputy killed by thieves outside a grocery store.
Legislators do the work that turns into first bills and, about 1 in 7 bills, into law – that is, unless they take inspiration from other states on big and small issues. The law derided by opponents as ‘Don’t Say Gay’ – held up as a model by the Lieutenant Governor this week – originated in Florida, which is how Mickey Mouse ended up in one of the political emails from Dan Patrick.
There are other issues drawn from the headlines and the current political season: immigration, the divestment of Russian investments, the elimination or limitation of tenure in state universities, the ban by the State of teaching critical race theory, daylight saving time, regulation of school libraries and the books they offer, and weatherization of natural gas plants that power electric generators.
They are already legislating, although they are not sitting.
They also do politics. The second round of the primaries will take place next month and the back and forth between the two main parties is also well advanced. Candidates and elected officials raise funds, trying to draw the attention of voters and donors to issues and positions that attract support and make the opposition look bad. The president and lieutenant governor are on the ballot this year, as are the people they work with in both houses.
Patrick’s shot at Disney – complete with a crestfallen Mickey – was the lieutenant governor’s disapproval of that company’s opposition to Florida’s new law. It’s a culture war problem in this year’s election — and will soon be a problem in the Texas Legislature, assuming Patrick wins another term.
Political battles and the topics of these debates have consequences. Ideas that work in elections — even bad apples and crazy bananas — reappear as bills when lawmakers gather in Austin.
These are not all bad fruits. Serious work is hidden in these lists, and lawmakers aren’t waiting until next year to find out what they want to do. If you wait until January to find out what the Legislative Assembly is up to – to get you to work on the things you want to do and the things you want to stop – it’s too late. Lawmakers are starting now, and much of their deliberations will be behind them when they arrive in Austin.
It might sound like your mom telling you to do your homework, but she was right, right?
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Grandstand at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/04/06/texas-legislature-2023/.
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