Texas is preparing to go back to its biennial brouhaha that is the 86th Texas Legislative Session. The fun begins Jan. 8, and our local State Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) called the office this week to give a preview on what he's looking forward to and what the direction of the Texas House will be.
The rush to file legislation began last week, with lawmakers trotting out a list of bills that they have authored and hope to get to the floor for a vote. However, many of these bills are unlikely to see the light of day, as many are red-meat initiatives that appease their base that lawmakers use to prove their dedication on an issue.
Cyrier sees no rush to get his bills to the legislative council. So far, he hasn't filed any bills because he and his staff are still in discussions with the agencies that they would affect and are hammering out details before he presents said legislation.
It's a steady move, and one that he says has worked for him in the past. When he first came into office, he had only nine days to prepare for the session, but ended up getting two statewide bills passed. Urgency takes a back seat to dedicated lawmaking here.
“We do have some legislation that's being written up,” Cyrier said. “People aren't awake until the session starts.”
However, he said that they are working on 3-4 bills right now. One of them might center on more water rights issues, which has become one of the big hits of each session dating back decades.
The big bills that Cyrier predicts will make an appearance are for public school finance, property tax reform, funding for Hurricane Harvey disaster assistance, and of course, water.
“It's always water,” he said.
As for finding a finance fix for public schools, Cyrier explained that incoming Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) has made schools a legislative priority. Cyrier said that school finance reform looks good from the House and governor's side, which he is optimistic. That dovetails with property tax reform, which is another perennial issue. He said that lawmakers are realizing that the state needs to pony up more dollars for public schools to ease the property tax burden.
Cyrier is excited about Bonnen's likely speakership. The two representatives have a working relationship, and Cyrier was one of Bonnen's earliest supporters. He's also been working on his transition to one of the most powerful positions in Texas.
“We're in good graces with Dennis and I support him as speaker,” Cyrier said. “I'm looking forward to that vote on Jan. 8.”
On the heels of Cyrier's landslide re-election win earlier this month, the rep struck a bipartisan tone with the incoming Democratic class of lawmakers, which are larger this year than they have been in the past. He looks forward to working with them and welcoming them to the Texas House.
Meanwhile, here's a snapshot of some of the pre-filed bills that have been introduced for the upcoming session:
Cyrier promised to check back in as the session gets rolling.