AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lawmakers are convening the 88th Legislative Session at the Texas Capitol Tuesday.
The 31 state senators and 150 state representatives will be meeting for 140 days, officially beginning Tuesday at 12 p.m.
The regular session will end on May 29, but Gov. Greg Abbott could potentially call special sessions after that date. By state law, special sessions can last a maximum of 30 days, but the governor has the power to call as many special sessions as they want.
The legislature meets every two years, in odd-numbered years. The regular session has lasted for 140 days consistently since the 1960s. Before then, regular sessions ranged from as short as 45 days in 1863 to 177 days in 1949.
When special sessions are added in, the 12th Legislative Session was the longest in state history, at 353 days in total. That session included a 17-day “provisional” session in February 1870, so Texas could ratify the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Since 1965, each regular session has lasted 140 days. In the 29 legislative sessions since then, 19 have gone on to have a least one special session. The 71st Session, in 1989-1990, ended up having six special sessions in addition to the regular session, totaling 292 days.
How many bills typically pass?
As seen in the chart below, the number of bills filed each legislative session has grown tremendously.
In the 1800s, and even as recently as the 1940s, it wasn’t uncommon to see sessions end with fewer than 2,000 bills filed. That compares to the 12,415 filed in the 81st Legislative Session in 2009.
Of course, not every bill is passed. In 2021, the most recent session, a total of 11,867 bills were filed by state lawmakers in the regular session and three subsequent special sessions. Of those, 4,508 were passed, about 38% of all bills filed. Gov. Abbott went on to veto 20 of those, according to online legislative statistics.
So far this session, lawmakers have already filed more than 1,600 bills. State senators and representatives can continue to file bills until March 10, the 60-day deadline.
When averaging the last 10 full sessions, lawmakers typically file about 11,500 bills, of which roughly 5,800 are passed — about 50% of the total.