The legislature meets every odd-numbered year to write new laws and to find solutions to the problems facing the state. This meeting time, which begins on the second Tuesday in January and lasts 140 days, is called the regular session. The governor can direct the legislature to meet at other times also. These meetings, called special sessions, can last no more than 30 days and deal only with issues chosen by the governor.
81st Legislature Regular Session
The Texas Legislature considered a wide variety of topics when it convened in regular session on January 13, 2009. Funding public and higher education, health and human services, criminal justice, and other state priorities commanded the attention of state lawmakers, as well as dealing with the aftermath of the devastation from Hurricane Ike. Also, 27 state agencies and programs, including those concerned with transportation, public safety, youth offenders, insurance regulation, agriculture, and parks and wildlife, were subject to review under the Sunset process. Many other issues, such as revisions to the property tax appraisal system and the business margins tax, enforcement of immigration laws, and the public school accountability system, also were considered.
82nd Legislature Regular Session
In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 11 through May 30.Major themes throughout the session were fixing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, state and congressional redistricting, and immigration reform. While redistricting maps were passed for the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas State Senate, and the State Board of Education, the legislature failed to pass a congressional map within the regular session.
83rd Legislature Regular Session
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 27. Thirty minutes after the regular session ended, Governor Rick Perry called legislators back for a special session starting that evening. Along with the necessity of creating a new budget, some of the biggest issues included medicaid and school funding, a water shortage, and reforming the school finance system.
84th Legislature Regular Session
Major issues during the 2015 legislative session included transportation funding, especially funding of the Texas Department of Transportation. A bill meant to help alleviate funding issues within the agency died in the last legislative session, leaving the issue to the 2015 legislative session. Officials from the agency told lawmakers they needed an additional $4 billion a year to maintain the state’s current traffic levels.