The Legislative Process

Floor Action Floor Debate

Dan Huberty arguing
Figure 3.10 State Representative Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) argues for an
education reform bill on the House floor in 2019. Image Credit: Andrew Teas License: CC BY

When a bill comes up for consideration by the full House or Senate, it receives its second reading. The bill is read, again by caption only, and then debated by the full membership of the chamber. Any member may offer an amendment, but it must be approved by a majority of the members present and voting to be adopted. The members then vote on whether to pass the bill. The bill is then considered by the full body again on the third reading and final passage.

A bill may be amended again on the third reading, but amendments at this stage require a two-thirds majority for adoption. Although the Texas Constitution requires a bill to be read on three separate days in each chamber before it can become law, this constitutional requirement may be suspended by a four-fifths vote of the chamber in which the bill is pending. The Senate routinely suspends this provision in order to give a bill a third reading immediately after its adopted on second reading. The House rarely suspends this provision. However, since the readings are required on three separate legislative days, the House can recess at the end of one calendar day, reconvene the next calendar day, pass a bill on second reading, then adjourn. During the same calendar day, the House can convene a new legislative day, pass the bill on third reading, and the constitutional requirement is met even though the bill was read twice on the same calendar day. This is especially important at the end of the regular legislative session.