Why they call it “sausage.” The distant screams you heard in the middle of last night were legislators, lobbyists, and others in Austin bemoaning the deaths of their House bills as the clock struck midnight. Now that the House’s self-imposed deadlines have left hundreds of House bills to wither and die on the vine, each chamber will turn its attention to passing bills already approved by its neighbor. That means a bill that took 15 weeks to draft, vet, debate, amend, and approve in one house will get 15 minutes of attention in the other house before being passed – and that makes for some messy legislation, folks. To make matters worse, the general public (including yours truly) gets little or no notice on what is going to happen and when it is going to happen from here on out. This is the point of the session when the Legislature hits top speed and then chucks the steering wheel out the window – and the only thing the rest of us can do is hold on for dear life!You've got that right! Add to that the fact that everyone involved is exhausted and on edge from watching most of their bills die, and you've got a tense scene under the pink dome. The next big date they're hurtling toward (listen for the "distant screams") will be Tuesday May 22, after which all bills must pass the second chamber or die and all that's left are conference committees. Until then, Katy bar the door.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
'When the Lege hits top speed and then chucks the steering wheel out the window'
Here's one of the best descriptions I've ever read of the Texas legislative process in May of odd numbered years, written May 11 by DA association lobbyist Shannon Edmonds: