Texas Legislative Law Handbook


April 25, 2017

     On Thursday, Representative Stickland called a point of order based on Rule 4, Section 18(b): the committee minutes are incomplete (Section 4.3 of the Handbook). The witness filled out two cards. On the first she spelled her last name incorrectly and wrongly noted that she did not want to testify; on the second she corrected those errors. 
     The chair made two clarifications. First, the notation on the form "of the witness's initial intent to testify (or not testify) does not limit the courses of action open to a witness who has changed her mind." To support this holding, the chair used precedent from a similar example, however the witness only filled out one form, saying that they would not testify, and then testified. 83 H.J. Reg. 1890 (2013). The chair also used precedent from an overruled point of order on a committee report that showed the witness as neutral, when the witness actually testified in support of the bill. The chair in that journal entry stated "...

April 16, 2017

     Last week, a point of order was sustained based on Rule 8, Section 1: The bill caption is inaccurate. If you have a copy of the Handbook, that's Section 2.2 of the Points of Order chapter. The House has been adding new requirements for captions over the past couple of sessions. In the 82nd, there were no requirements for captions past "a brief statement that gives the legislature and the public reasonable notice of the subject of a proposed measure." In the 83rd, the House added a requirement for a special statement on certain tax bills. In the 84th, the House added a similar requirement for certain criminal-offense and licensure bills.

     At first glance, it appeared that this point of order was based on the indirect effect it would have on the tax rate. But the chair clarified in the journal that "the addition of warnings of hypothetical possibilities is neither required by the letter or spirit of Rule 8, Section 1(b). The point of order was actually su...

April 7, 2017

     Yesterday the House discussed the budget. Aside from the fight over whether to defund of the City of Bedford, things were relatively civil. But parliamentary tactics were on display like never before. Points of order were flying in every direction.

     If you read my book, you would know that I am no stranger to shameless plugs. You would also know how to use the most common point of order on budget day in the House: Rule 8, Section 4, the amendment would change general law. The graph above shows the the frequency with which that rule has been used on each budget day. The dashed line is how many were called; the solid line is how many were successful (including those that caused the amendment to be withdrawn). 

     If you are a subscriber, you will receive a list of each point of order used in this graph, the journal page, and the holding for later reference. If you aren't, feel free to subscribe and email me, and I'll send it you.

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© 2017 by Kevin Stewart