© 2017 by Kevin Stewart

More caption precedent

May 9, 2017

     This session has seen a dramatic rise in the popularity of points of order based on the caption rules—Rule 8, Section 1 (§2.2 of the Handbook). This session, the caption rule may exceed the form of reports rule (Rule 4, Section 32) as the most cited rule in the journal.

     It started with the point of order on Representative Leach's bill, HB 486.  On Wednesday, a point of order based on the same rule, Rule 8, Section 1(a), was overruled on CSHB 1102. The caption said "relating to providing a telephone number for certain governmental purposes." The bill actually contained six separate, somewhat unrelated purposes. The chair held that each purpose was properly contained in what is clearly a broad caption.

     Both captions were broad, but there is a distinction. HB 486 is specific to the calculation of a rollback tax rate, but the breadth of its caption—"relating to school district ad valorem tax rates"—obscured that purpose. The content of CSHB 1102, on the other hand, includes six different types governmental purposes for providing a phone number. The caption needed to be broad because listing six different changes in the caption is impossible. 

     Broad captions, especially those with words like "certain" in them, should be examined closely. But a broad caption on a bill with multiple distinct effects is acceptable. When this is the case, try the one-subject rule (§2.1 of the Handbook) instead.

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