As we have discussed over the last few weeks, the 85th Legislative Session began at noon Jan. 10. The House members were administered the oath of office by Roland Pablos, the current Secretary of State. The members then elected Joe Straus to a fifth term as speaker.


On Wednesday, the House debated and passed the House Rules, which dictate procedural issues with regard to the House of Representatives. The rules establish committees, the bill and amendment process, House Floor procedure, and many other issues which provide the framework of daily activity for the House. Bills cannot be referred to committees until the House Rules are adopted. All members vote on the adoption of the rules.


Now that the rules are established, House members are asked to submit their committee preferences. Members are assigned to committees by the speaker, according to preference and seniority. Once preferences are submitted next week, the speaker’s office will begin the task of sorting the requests of 150 members.


Once committees are named, the legislative process will begin in earnest. At times, the process can be fast-paced. However, the Legislature has an online tool that enables members of the public to track legislation in which they are interested. The “My TLO” tab on the website http://www.capitol.texas.gov allows you to create a personalized bill list and set up email alerts when there is action on a listed bill.


Amidst all of the opening ceremonies, I am reminded of how honored I am to serve as the state representative for District 62. I look forward to representing the citizens of Grayson, Fannin, and Delta counties this session, and encourage everyone to contact my office with input on legislation. Legislators depend on input from constituents to make informed decisions about the legislation before them.


I encourage you to log on to http://www.capitol.texas.gov and to view the legislation that has already been filed. Please contact me regarding any legislation of interest to you.


Larry Phillips of Sherman represents District 62 in the Texas House of Representatives. His telephone number in Sherman is 903-891-7297. His telephone number in Austin is 512-463-0297. His address in Austin is P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910. His email address is larry.phillips@house.state.tx.us.