The 85th Texas Legislature gaveled in today, and already over 1,300 bills have been filed. Many of those bills pose considerable threats to Texans’ freedom and equality. On LGBT equality, reproductive freedom, and immigrants’ rights, many of our lawmakers will stop at nothing to roll back the clock. Want to know what you can do to fight back? Keep reading.
First things first: find out who represents you, and how to contact them.
Second, the schedule: Session starts today, January 10, and lasts 140 days. The most intense legislative activity will occur in March, April and May.
Third, the process: In the House, a bill is filed then considered in committee. If the committee votes the bill out, one of two calendars committees set the bill on the House agenda for a vote, which is followed by a floor vote.
In the Senate, a bill is filed then considered in committee. If the committee votes the bill out, the Lieutenant Governor sets the bill for a Senate vote, which is followed by a floor vote.
There are opportunities for the public to weigh in at each point in the process. You can:
- Work with an office to get a bill filed
- Advocate with the committee for or against a hearing
- Testify at the committee hearing
- Advocate that the committee vote the bill out (or not vote the bill out)
- Meet with whomever sets the agenda for the floor vote
- Contact your lawmakers before the floor vote
- Repeat in the other chamber
Bear in mind that as session moves along, more and more proposed laws will be amended into other bills. This can mean that a bill that seemed stuck in committee is suddenly looming.
What you can do: Believe it or not, legislators like to be liked. They’re very concerned with what the voters think, and because of this, they can be influenced.
You can email, call or visit the office of your representative, senator, or key policymakers, as can any concerned resident. Sign up for an action alert to know when you need to swing into action.
- Sign up for ACLU of Texas e-alerts to keep abreast of bill movements, committee hearings, and emergencies
- Join our Community Empowerment Network and become a volunteer
- Become an ACLU of Texas member
- Use the Texas legislature’s online bill tracking functionality
- Track important civil liberties legislation using the ACLU of Texas’s bill tracker.