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Filing deadline passes with fewer bills on the table in Texas

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March 15, 2011

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By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN, Texas: Friday marked the March 11th deadline for legislators filing bills in Texas's 82nd session.[1] The Houston Chronicle reported that by midday Friday, approximately 5,500 bills had been filed. 5,500 bills may seem like a lot in a 60-day filing period, until compared with the 7,400 bills filed in the last legislative session.[2] This year's total represents a 26% decline in bills filed from the 81st session.

The drop in filings is being attributed to the budget shortfall, projected at $27 billion by some estimates. Less money equates to fewer funded projects and programs, and as such legislators are prioritizing their focus. A spokesman for Lt. Governor David Dewhurst commented "The state is facing a revenue shortfall, and members understand we have less money to spend."[2]

Even with less bills on the table, there's still plenty of excitement ahead for the 82nd legislature. Bills addressing hot political topics such as illegal immigration, voter identification, abortion, and concealed weapons on college campuses are already making waves across Texas.[2][3][4] While such bills will garner much of the press attention over the coming months, the legislature itself will likely spend most of its time and energy redrawing political lines in Texas and fixing the giant budget shortfall.[2]

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