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Long second day of procedure in Texas House; calm in the Senate as terms are drawn

Texas State Senators drew lots to determine term length in a once-in-a-decade procedure, and House Republicans attempted to keep Democrats off committee chairs.

SAN ANTONIO — The second day of the Texas Legislature is in the books. While the rules in the Senate passed smoothly, there was debate across party lines in the House.

Now that the rules and procedures have been taken care of, there’s still a few more ceremonial items to discuss before lawmakers discuss bills.

Texas Senate and its Lot Draw

Under Texas law after redistricting, the State Senate must draw lots to determine how long they will serve their current term. One class that drew odd numbers will serve four-year terms, even numbers will serve two-year terms.

One by one, Senators drew an envelope with a number inside from a bowl to learn their fate.

San Antonio-area Democrats including Roland Gutierrez, Jose Menendez, and Judith Zaffarini all drew odd numbers to serve four years. Donna Campbell from New Braunfels drew a two-year term, however she has served as the area’s Senator since 2012. State senators don’t have terms limits.

19 Republicans and 12 Democrats will serve under the direction of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Lawmakers say the Constitution keeps them from hearing bills for the first 60 days in committee.

“But that doesn’t keep us from lobbying our colleagues and asking what we want. For me and my part, I’m going to be talking a lot about Uvalde,” Sen. Roland Gutierrez told KENS 5. 

The State Senator has filed bills asking to raise the age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21. 

“That same man can’t buy a cigarette, he can’t buy a beer, but he can go buy an AR-15? He can’t even buy a handgun," Gutierrez has also filed bills asking for extreme risk protective orders and wants to expand rural mental healthcare.

Over in the House on Tuesday, House Speaker Dade Phelan said “tough conversations” will be had regarding school safety.

“It’s about action, those families are asking for action,” Gutierrez said.

House Rules

Over the span of five hours, the Texas House convened to decide its rules and procedures.

Only two amendments out of 21 proposals passed, including a rule that would punish House lawmakers from breaking quorum or taking a leave of absence.

Todd Hunter proposed the amendment which gained a majority of support from Republicans. Democrats, some of whom broke quorum over an elections bill during the 87th Legislature, voted against the amendment.

Republicans proposed amendments that could have prevented Democrats from serving as committee chairs. An objection was sustained.

Other proposals were rejected, including suggestions by Rep. Todd Tinderholt that committee chairs must submit statements believing there are only two genders, or that each chairman must provide a written notice that they don’t support Marxism.

Victoria Neave Criado of Dallas submitted a proposal that any report on a redistricting bill must include statistics on how redistricting impacts voters of color also failed.

What’s next

The House and the Senate will reconvene on Thursday morning. What’s ahead is a joint session to canvass the votes of Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Next week both members will receive their inauguration.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who also won re-election in November, was sworn in on Tuesday.


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