The Legislative Process

Introducing a Bill

A representative or senator gets an idea for a bill by listening to the people he or she represents and then working to solve their problem. A bill may also grow out of the recommendations of an interim committee study conducted when the legislature is not in session. The idea is researched to determine what state law needs to be changed or created to best solve that problem. A bill is then drafted by the legislator, often with the help of an interest group and with legal assistance from the Texas Legislative Council, a legislative agency that provides bill drafting services, research assistance, computer support, and other services for legislators.

Once a bill has been written, it is introduced by a member of the House or Senate in the member’s own chamber. Sometimes, similar bills about a particular issue are introduced in both chambers at the same time by a representative and senator working together. However, any bill increasing taxes or raising money for use by the state must start in the House of Representatives.

Representatives and senators can introduce bills on any subject during the first 60 calendar days of a regular session. After 60 days, the introduction of any bill other than a local bill or a bill related to an emergency declared by the governor requires the consent of at least four-fifths of the members present and voting in the house or four-fifths of the membership in the senate.

After a bill has been introduced, a short description of the bill, called a caption, is read aloud while the chamber is in session so that all of the members are aware of the bill and its subject. This is called the first reading, and it is the point in the process where the presiding officer assigns the bill to a committee. This assignment is announced on the chamber floor during the first reading of the bill.