Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol

The final full week of the session was jolted by a House committee’s vote to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton. Meanwhile, conference committees were busy reconciling House-Senate versions of the budget and several bills important to counties.

May 26, 2023

Legislative News

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House Committee Holds Public Hearing to Air Findings of Paxton Investigation

On Wednesday, the House Committee on General Investigating met in a rare open forum to hear from a five-person investigative team that it engaged to look into pending charges and allegations of misconduct by Attorney General Ken Paxton. The panel presented its detailed findings across more than three hours of testimony. Committee members then met behind closed doors in executive session before briefly reemerging to announce that no next step had been determined. The committee met again on Thursday and voted unanimously to recommend the House take up a vote to impeach Paxton.

A video recording of Wednesday's hearing is available here.

House-Senate Budget Writers Forge Compromise

House and Senate conferees for House Bill 1, the $321.3 billion 2024-25 state budget for the upcoming two-year period, and Senate Bill 30, the supplemental appropriations bill for the current two-year state budget, officially concluded their deliberations with conference committee reports for both bills filed in both chambers. Conference committee reports on general appropriations bills require a 48-hour layout, so the budgets will be heard as soon as today in the Senate and tomorrow in the House.

If approved, the budget will be sent to Comptroller Glenn Hegar to certify the state has sufficient revenue to cover the appropriations. From there it will go to Gov. Greg Abbott for his approval. The Governor can veto any line item in the budget but must act within 10 or 20 days of receiving it, depending on whether the Legislature is in session or not, to veto appropriations.

Texts of the budget bills are now available. TAC Legislative Services will update our state budget worksheets for items of importance to counties as soon as possible.

Conferees Working on Fixing House-Senate Bill Discrepancies

It is not uncommon for the House and Senate to pass different versions of a bill. When they do, the originating chamber may either agree to the modified bill or request the appointment of a conference committee. A conference committee is led by the bill's author and the other chamber's sponsor, who are joined by eight additional members – four Representatives and four Senators. The conference committee is appointed to settle on the final form of a bill, as agreed to by the majority of each chamber's contingent.

Conferees have been appointed for the following bills. The links below will be updated as negotiations continue:

  • HB 17 by Rep. David Cook (R-Mansfield). Relating to the official misconduct and removal of district attorneys and county attorneys.
  • SB 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). Relating to financial assistance provided and programs administered by the Texas Water Development Board and proposing a constitutional amendment creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state.
  • SB 22 by Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster). Relating to the establishment of grant programs to provide financial assistance to qualified sheriff's departments, district attorney's offices and county attorney's offices in rural counties.
  • SB 1933 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). Relating to certain oversight procedures of the state over county elections.
  • HB 9 and House Joint Resolution 125 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin). Relating to the development and funding of broadband and telecommunications services and proposing a constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of broadband and telecommunications services projects in the state.
  • HB 3474 by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano). Relating to the operation and administration of and practices and procedures regarding proceedings in the judicial branch of state government, including the service of process and delivery of documents related to the proceedings, the administration of oaths, and the management of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, and the composition of certain juvenile boards; establishing a civil penalty; increasing certain court costs; authorizing fees.
  • HB 3697 by Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Georgetown). Relating to county regulation of subdivisions and approval of subdivision plans or plats.

The product of each negotiation, a conference committee report, must then go before each full chamber and receive majority approval in order to move to the Governor's desk. Joint resolutions are not subject to gubernatorial oversight and instead go directly to the voters.

May 31 Webinar: Creating a Mental Health Court

Mental health courts in Texas remain rare. Just 22 counties have a mental health court, leaving the other 232 counties without such a resource. On May 31, the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health will hold a free webinar to share details on how counties may create a mental health court.

To learn more or register, please visit the commission's website or contact rose.mcbride@txcourts.gov.

Week in Review is a collaborative article. For more information, please contact TAC Legislative Services.