During the last five legislative sessions, legislators statewide filed around 10,000 bills per session, with around 47% passing and making it through both the House and Senate, according to the Legislature’s reference library. Counting just House and Senate bills and excluding resolutions, those numbers drop to around 6,600 with a 20% passing rate.
Elections, education and the environment were some of the common themes of bills pre-filed by local legislators, who have until the 60th day of the session on March 10 to file bills. Bills filed by House representatives are labeled “HB”, and those filed by senators are labeled “SB”, and information about the bills is sourced from LegiScan.
Harris County’s elections have been scrutinized by the state and the county’s Republican party, and the county’s elections administrator Clifford Tatum has sought additional resources for future elections. Both Republican and Democratic legislators in the House and Senate have pre-filed bills relating to elections and voting.
SB 126, filed by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston
HB 943, filed by Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston
These bills would allow those with unexpired driver’s licenses or personal identification cards to register to vote online.
SB 220, filed by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston
The bill would create the position of a state election marshal, appointed by the secretary of state, who would then appoint one election marshal per 1 million people in a given Department of Public Safety Region to investigate violations of the Texas Election Code.
SB 260, filed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham
The bill would require the voter registrar to request written confirmation of a voter’s residence address if it is a commercial P.O. box and the voter has not voted in any election during the previous 25 months, or if the registrar believes a voter’s current residence is different than what is recorded.
HB 246, filed by Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring
Swanson’s bill would create a pilot program of video recording at ballot counting activity in at least 20% of voting precincts in six counties chosen by the secretary of state, two of which with populations greater than 500,000 people.
HB 355, filed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston
The bill would allow those convicted of felonies who are not currently incarcerated for those offenses to vote without needing to have completed parole, supervision or probation.
HB 944, filed by Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston
Dutton’s bill would mandate that a county with a population of 3.3 million or more serve as a polling place, in effect creating a polling place at the Harris County jail.
In Harris County as well as across the state, public education is a target of legislation this year.
SB 248, filed by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston
HB 45, filed by Rep. Christina Morales, D-Houston
These bills would add ethnic studies, including Mexican American and African American studies, in public schools.
HB 277, filed by Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring
This bill would abolish Harris County’s board of education, board of county school trustees and office of county school superintendent as of Sept. 1, 2025, unless voters voted to keep them in the November 2024 election.
HB 320, filed by Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston
The bill would create measures to assist students enrolled at public institutions of higher education who are homeless, including priority for on-campus housing.
HB 338, filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress
Publishers would be required to assign content ratings to books in order to sell them to school districts or open-enrollment charter schools. School districts would then be restricted from providing instructional material or books to children of certain ages depending on the content rating.
HB 478, filed by Rep. Lacey Hull, R-Houston
This bill would repeal a section of the Texas Education Code, taking away the requirement for school districts that provide human sexuality instruction to include information describing opportunities for parental involvement in developing human sexuality curriculum in its written notice to parents before the school year.
Democratic legislators have signaled interest in legislation around concrete batch plants in their pre-filed bills.
SB 179, filed by Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston
This bill would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, to consider the cumulative effects on the public’s health and physical property of facility emissions when granting permits for new or existing facilities.
HB 344, filed by Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston
Johnson’s bill would require concrete plant applicants to mail written notice of their application to each household within 440 yards of the proposed plant.
HB 758, filed by Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston
This bill would require TCEQ to allow requests for contested case hearings of concrete plant permits to be filed at any time during the public comment period.
HB 934, filed by Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston
For permits for waste facilities and injection wells, this bill would expand the definition of “affected persons” of a facility to the state senator and representative who represent the area in which a facility’s construction is being proposed.
Out of the 32 legislators whose districts are either all or partly in Harris County, two newly-elected representatives—Rep. Charles Cunningham, R-Houston and Rep. Mano DeAyala, R-Houston—had not pre-filed any bills by the time of publication. Four returning legislators also had not pre-filed bills by the time of publication: Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; Rep. Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston; Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, D-Houston; and Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston.
To read more about legislative priorities statewide, see other Community Impact coverage here.