FINDING TEXAS LEGISLATION
The text of every bill filed since 1991 is available through the Texas Legislature Online Website, www.capitol.state.tx.us. Under Search Legislation (top of the middle column):
- Select the correct session, e.g. 83(R) – 2013;
- Select Bill Number; and
- Enter the bill number, e.g. SB 406.
Select Bill History to find authors, sponsors and the status of the bill. To review the bill language online or print the bill, select Text and then the last version of the bill on the list. Download the PDF version to view line and page numbers.
HOW TO READ TEXAS LEGISLATION
Bill Number and Author ‑ At the top of the bill on the right appears the bill number. Bills are filed in the Senate as a Senate Bill (SB) or in the House as a House Bill (HB), so SB or HB is an essential part of the bill number. On the left side appears the word By followed by the name of the bill author or sponsor.
Organization of Texas Law ‑ A bill is written with the intent of amending and/or adding to Texas Law. Therefore you will note a reference to the statutes this bill intends to alter, e.g. Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes, Insurance Code, or Government Code, etc. These Statutes or Codes are subdivided into Chapters, Subchapters, Articles and Sections.
New, Old and Deleted Language ‑ New proposed language is underlined. Current language that will not be changed appears in normal text. Current language to be deleted is contained in brackets and dashes strike through the wording contained in the brackets.
PARTS OF A BILL
The Caption ‑ The first lines of a bill are written in small letters and begin with the words “relating to.” This is referred to as the caption. It is a broad summary of the subject of the bill. The caption is important because the bill contents must be germane to the caption and no amendments can be added to the bill that do not relate to the caption.
SECTIONS ‑ The SECTION of a bill is written in capital letters. If you see the word “Section” or the abbreviation “Sec.” that only has the first letter capitalized, it refers to a Section of Texas Law. For instance, the first SECTION of a bill will always refer to the part of Texas Law it intends to change.
Definitions ‑ Read definitions carefully. They usually appear early in the bill and are generally entitled “DEFINITIONS.” It is essential that you evaluate whether a bill will apply to, or include, APRNs or not. Sometimes the only way to determine this is by a careful reading of the definitions and noting the terminology throughout the bill. For example, if the definition of “practitioner,” does not include APRNs, you must decide if APRNs should be included in all or part of the bill.
Instructional SECTION(S) ‑ The next to the last SECTION or SECTIONS of a bill deserve special attention. This part of the bill is referred to as the “instructional provision(s).” It is never underlined and usually does not have an immediate reference to a statute. The instructional section always identifies the effective date of the legislation and may contain additional instructional provisions. For instance, a current law may be repealed. If you do not read the instructional section, you may miss crucial information. Look closely at the “repealer” section of the bill since there can always be surprises in not just what is added but what the bill would delete from current law.
FINDING YOUR LEGISLATORS
The Texas Legislature Online (TLO) is also the gateway to find who represents you in Congress and in the Texas Legislature. Enter your address in the next to last box in the right column of the TLO Home Page, titled Who Represents Me? For most accurate results, enter your street address and zip code.
Congressional members are listed first. These are the persons who represent you in Washington D.C. at the federal level.
- Your two U.S. Senators are at the top
- Your U.S. Representative is listed next
Texas Legislators are listed in the middle. These are the persons who represent you at the Texas Capitol in Austin, and they are the legislators to contact about State issues and Texas Legislation.
- Your Texas Senator is listed below the U.S. Representative
- Your Texas Representative is listed above the State Board of Education Member.
The system is not flawless. If you live in a new area that is not yet included in the program, it defaults to the districts included in the zip code and may give more than one possible district. If that happens, the easiest way to find your correct district is by checking your voter registration card. The next to last box, labeled STSEN, is your state senate district number, and the last box, labeled STREP, is your state house district number. You can also contact your country clerk’s office to obtain your correct district numbers.