Texas legislators will have to answer a myriad of questions during the next 22 days.
Which state programs are most worthy of taxpayer dollars? Should they cap college tuition? How will they regulate the insurance industry? Can college students legally carry guns on campus?
As usual, these issues and many others remain unresolved as lawmakers enter the final three weeks of their 140-day legislative session.
The House and Senate will rush to pass legislation in the next few weeks.
Lawmakers will zip through some bills with little debate, committees will meet hurriedly around their chairmen’s desks, and legislative lawyers will work around the clock to find the precise language that legislators want in their bills.
But many bills will die in the lower chamber beginning this week, as key deadlines kick in for managing the last-minute logjam of legislation.
For example, bills that haven’t been approved by a committee by today will die there unless lawmakers can attach them to related measures that still have life.
Just 51 bills — of more than 7,000 filed — have reached Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for signature by Thursday, so lawmakers have miles to go on just about every major issue.
So far, the story of the session has been more than $10 billion in federal stimulus legislation that lawmakers used to patch holes in the state budget, avoiding severe cuts even as state revenues are projected to fall.
“It could have been a bloodbath,” said Harvey Kronberg, who publishes the Quorom Report, an online Capitol newsletter.
Some things simply won’t get done, either by design or because of a lack of time. And others will be vetoed by the governor.
But until then, legislators harbor hope their priorities will become law.