The Texas House will debate its version of the budget for the next biennium tomorrow. After hours of debate and numerous amendments, Senate Bill 1 will then move to a conference committee made up of five senators and five representatives. The conference committee usually includes the chairs of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees and four other members of each committee. The committee’s job is to reach a consensus between the Senate and House versions. The rules allow the committee to reconcile only points on which the House and Senate bills differ. They may not change figures that are identical in both bills. If both bills include a spending item but differ on the amount, the committee may not set the amount lower than the smaller of the two amounts nor increase it above the larger amount. If an item appears in only one bill, the conferees may include or delete it. If they include it, they may reduce but not increase the amount originally included in the bill.
The legislative session is moving at a brisk pace at this point. There are roughly four more weeks for House bills to move out of a House committee and towards floor debate. Add a week more for Senate bills in Senate committees. Once the bills move to the opposite side of the Capitol, they either pick up speed or come to rest in committee, often permanently. For more information on the end-of-session deadlines, take a look at this handy calendar: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/DeadlineActionCalendar.pdf
Former U.S. President George W. Bush’s presidential library will be dedicated at Southern Methodist University on April 25th. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to attend. The library opens to the general public on May 1.