New Rule 8, Section 1 precedent

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 sustained based on the general requirement for captions to provide reasonable notice. The bill had been filed before with the caption "relating to the calculation of the rollback tax rate of a school district." However, "the caption of the bill in the 85th Session was broadened from its previous accurate description to its current caption, 'relating to school district ad valorem tax rates.'" Therefore, "the bill's current caption did not provide adequate notice that the bill relates to the calculation of the rollback tax rate of a school district and provides for a related study." In other words, the caption was accurate but not precise.


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