Texas 83rd Legislative Session Update: Lots of New Faces
The following is a digest of an article originally published at ImpactNews.com. Mike Toomey and the Texas Lobby Group are posting this update as a public service for Texas lobbyists, legislators, state political analysts, consultants, and all other parties interested in the 83rd legislative session.
The learning curve is steep and time is short for freshmen legislators in the 83rd session. Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels said it this way:
“I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hydrant.”
There is nothing new about the trials and tribulations of freshman legislators in Texas. Learning your way around the Pink Dome is a challenge. And it always has been. What’s unusual this session is the large number of newcomers to the capital.
There are forty new legislators in the House (150 members) and one in the Senate. They represent great diversity, coming from both parties, and every social and ethnic group in Texas. They are not expected to file many bills during their first session. This is the time for listening and learning. They do file bills, certainly, but it is rare that they get any major legislation passed. They usually file local, uncontested bills to get their feet wet and learn the ropes.
Freshmen bills filed this session include legislation allowing volunteer firefighters join professionals when needed, school finance bills, local bills dealing with public pools, etc. But there are some controversial bills filed by freshmen as well, regarding abortion rights and immigration issues. Certainly freshmen can swing for the fences and do. The elevated discussion of gun rights that is currently sweeping the nation will certainly have an effect on this session. We’ll see plenty of bills in this regard as the session moves on.
We welcome the 2013 class of freshmen to their respective leadership roles in our state.