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SB500 with Huberty Dredging Amendment Unanimously Approved by House

Unofficially, the vote was 134 – 0. Technically, the vote must still be certified. But I’m not worried.

Texas Capitol Dome from South Entrance

This means that Representative Dan Huberty’s amendment to provide $30 million for West Fork mouth bar dredging passed its second major hurdle. What happens next?

If the Senate agrees with the changes, SB500 will go to the Comptroller and then the Governor. If the Senate does not agree with the changes, it will go to a conference committee and then back to BOTH chambers with final “compromise changes” for a straight up or down vote.

For former political science majors, civics teachers using this as a class lesson, and those who are just plain curious, here’s how the process works. I’m quoting directly from the Legislature’s procedure manual.

Return of a Bill to the Originating Chamber

“After a bill has passed through committee and floor deliberation in the opposite chamber, the bill is sent back to the originating chamber. If the bill was not amended in the opposite chamber, or if it was amended and the originating chamber concurs with the changes, the bill is enrolled, signed by both presiding officers in the presence of their respective chambers, and sent to the governor. Any bill making an appropriation must be sent to the comptroller of public accounts for certification before going to the governor. If a bill was amended in the opposite chamber and the originating chamber does not concur with the changes, the originating chamber may request the appointment of a conference committee to resolve the differences between the house and senate versions of the bill.”

Conference Committee

“If a conference committee is requested, the presiding officers each chamber appoint five members from their respective chambers to serve on the committee. A conference committee’s charge is limited to reconciling differences between the two chambers, and the committee may not alter, amend, or omit text that is not in disagreement without the adoption of an “out of bounds” resolution by both chambers. The committee also may not add text on any matter that is not in disagreement or that is not included in either version of the bill in question without such a resolution.”

“After the committee has reached an agreement, a report is prepared for submittal to the house and senate. The report must be approved by at least three conferees from each chamber and must contain the text of the bill as approved by the conference committee, a side-by-side analysis comparing the text of the compromise bill to both the house and thesenate versions, an updated fiscal note, and the signatures of those members of the conference committee who approved the report. A conference committee report is not subject to amendment by the house or senate and must be accepted or rejected in its entirety.”

“Should the proposed compromise remain unacceptable to either chamber, it may be returned to the same conference committee for further deliberation, with or without specific instructions, or the appointment of a new conference committee may be requested. Failure of the conference committee to reach agreement kills the bill. If the conference committee report is acceptable to both chambers, the bill is enrolled, signed by both presiding officers in the presence of their respective chambers, and sent to the governor.”

Comptroller’s Review Required

The sentence BOLDED above, refers to Article III, Section 49a of the Texas Constitution. It says that any bill containing an appropriation must go to the Comptroller (before the Governor) to certify that the State has enough money to pay for it.

Article III says, “No bill containing an appropriation shall be considered as passed or be sent to the Governor for consideration until and unless the Comptroller of Public Accounts endorses his certificate thereon showing that the amount appropriated is within the amount estimated to be available in the affected funds. When the Comptroller finds an appropriation bill exceeds the estimated revenue he shall endorse such finding thereon and return to the House in which same originated. Such information shall be immediately made known to both the House of Representatives and the Senate and the necessary steps shall be taken to bring such appropriation to within the revenue, either by providing additional revenue or reducing the appropriation. (Added Nov. 3, 1942; amended Nov. 2, 1999.)”

Both Houses Approved Unanimously and Changes Relatively Minor

So what path will SB500 take? My guess? Both the Senate and the House approved this bill unanimously (31-0 in Senate and 131-0 in House). Also, the changes in the House were relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, The two houses have roughly 5,000 more bills to consider before the end of the session. So I’m betting that the Senate may approve the changes without a conference committee and send the bill straight to the Comptroller. Stay tuned.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/28/19

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