Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 1: The 82nd Legislature Gets Underway

Today is the first day of the 82nd Texas Legislative Session. The legislature meets every other year for 140 days. In that time they must handle all of the business of the State for the next two years.

Most of today's activities are ceremonial or procedural. Both the House and Senate will convene at noon. You can watch the proceedings live on-line HERE (House) and HERE (Senate).

The on-screen action today will be minimal. Members of both houses will be sworn in and the House will likely elect its speaker (which may involve some fireworks as Rep. Ken Paxton is refusing to back out of the Speaker's race (more info HERE)).

Mostly today is a party. Lobbyist will be dropping off gifts at the officials offices (none worth more than $75), staffers will be getting to know each other and lawmakers will start, in earnest, conversations about their legislative priorities. There are a number of parties thrown by lobbying and interest groups around Austin tonight to celebrate the beginning of session.

But don't be fooled. The deadly seriousness of the tasks before them are not lost on the officials or their staffers. Today is a day to eat, drink and be merry, because for the next 139 days they will get little sleep or peace as they go about the business of the people of Texas.

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