Scuttlebutt from the Senate (and House):
- The Texas Senate has adopted its rules, doing away with the 70 year tradition of requiring a two-thirds majority to move legislation to the floor for debate. Now it will take a three-fifths majority, or 19 Senators, to move legislation forward, instead of 21.
- Governor Greg Abbott announced that February 17th is the runoff date for the special elections in Senate District 26, House District 13, House District 17 and House District 123. Early voting begins on February 9th and goes through February 13th.
- SD-26 (San Antonio): Democratic state representatives Trey Martinez Fischer and Rep. José Menéndez are vying for Leticia Van de Putte’s Senate seat
- HD-13 (Austin, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Grimes, Lavaca, and Washington counties): Judge Carolyn Bilski (R) and Leighton Schubert (R), an attorney are running to fill the seat vacated by Lois Kolkhorst when she was elected to the Texas Senate.
- HD-17 (central Texas: Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Karnes, Lee counties): John Cyrier (R), a general contractor and Brent Golemon (R), a businessman/entrepreneur will face each other in the runoff.
- HD -123 (San Antonio): Diego Bernal (D), a former San Antonio city councilman, is running against Nunzio Previtera (R), an insurance agent.
- Senate committee assignments are out, but not without some reworking of committee structure. The number of Senate committees has dropped from 18 to 14, doing away with Open Government, Jurisprudence, Economic Development and Government Organization. Where certain bills get referred for a hearing will also shift because of the downsizing.
- The Senate released a $205.1 billion base budget that includes $4 billion in tax cuts– $3 billion set aside for property tax cuts and $1 billion for business franchise tax cuts. The mechanisms for tax relief are still being worked out.
Only in Austin:
Now that Session has started, various groups and organizations from across the state travel to Austin to advocate for what is important to them. Monday was Bikers’ Day, and hundreds of bikers gathered at the Capitol to bring attention to issues that affect nearly a half million registered motorcyclists in Texas. The U.S. Defenders, a grass roots movement of citizen bikers, organized a moment of silence outside of the Capitol.