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Bill Filed to Have the Texas Legislature Meet Every Year

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Texas is only one of four states that has it’s legislature meet every other year. A bill filed by Rep. Richard Pena Raymond would change that. According to the NY Times:

Mr. Raymond’s bill would require the Texas Legislature to meet in regular session in odd-numbered years and to hold a budget session in even-numbered years. The move would mean annual meetings and budgets, an idea that has been debated for decades but has long been viewed with suspicion in a place that prizes small government, low taxes and deregulation.

 

“As big a budget as we have, as big a state as we are, as diverse of an economy as we have, we really should be looking at annual budgets,” said Mr. Raymond, a Democrat from Laredo and a former member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the budget. “There’s no business in the private sector that does two-year budgets. It’s a very outdated idea.”

 

In Texas, the biennial sessions unfold quickly – beginning at noon on the second Tuesday in January and ending in May after a 140-day run. It is a tradition dating back 137 years, when the State Constitution was ratified and required the Legislature to meet every two years.

 

Although the state’s population has grown in that time to nearly 26 million people from about 1 million, Texas has held onto the biennial tradition. Several Republican lawmakers and conservative activists said it suited them, and the political culture, just fine.

 

They described Mr. Raymond’s bill – his third attempt to change the system since the 2009 session – as a long shot at best. Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature, and even if the bill were to pass, a constitutional amendment changing the legislative schedule to annual sessions would have to be approved by Texas voters before it could take effect.

 

“There’s not a single Republican who would vote for that,” said Steve Ogden, a Republican senator from Bryan who was preparing to officially retire on Tuesday after 22 years in the Legislature. “I think one of the reasons that Texas does as well as it does is because the Legislature meets as infrequently as it does. In a state that believes in limited government, I think it works well for us.”

 

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, appeared to agree with Mr. Ogden. “The governor believes we need to limit government in people’s lives, not expand it,” said Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perry. “A part-time Legislature allows lawmakers to come in and complete the business of Texans and then go out and live under the laws that they’ve passed.”

As was stated in the article, this bill is a long shot. It’s a bad idea and there is no reason at all to change how the legislature meets. What do you think?

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