The Senate adopted rules for the session on Wednesday by a 27-0 vote. The two-thirds rule was maintained without exception, so all Senate bills will need support from two-thirds of senators to reach the floor for debate. For the past two sessions there have been specific exceptions to the two-thirds rules called “Special Orders” to deal with voter ID legislation.
The new rules also changed how sunset bills will be assigned to committees this session. In past sessions all sunset bills have been assigned to the Government Organization Committee but this session they will be assigned to the appropriate subject matter committee.
Before the session started Lt. Gov. Dewhurst changed Sen. Judith Zaffirini’s chair responsibilities from Higher Education to Government Organization. This was described as a demotion by the press, but it was noted Zaffirini would still have significant influence because of the important sunset legislation scheduled for the session. Despite the new rule’s apparent dilution of Zaffirini’s influence, she supported the rule change according to a Texas Tribune article.
The House is not scheduled to take up session rules until next week.