March 29, 2016 - A Houston state representative and the parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives outlined the state’s legislative system last week at the University of Houston Law Center.
State Rep. Sarah Davis ‘01 and Chris Griesel spoke to first-year students in Statutory Interpretation classes taught by Professors Tracy Hester and Dave Fagundes.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with a legislator and a top legislative expert who both actually make statutes happen in the Texas Legislature,” said Hester. “Their insights will definitely help our classes read statutes more effectively and be better lawyers.”
Davis and Griesel summarized a seven-step flowchart that illustrated how state representatives and senators get a bill through to the governor. Steps include introduction and referral to a committee, committee action, scheduling on the legislative calendar, floor action, sending the bill to the Senate or House, depending on where it originated, reconciling different versions, if necessary, in a joint conference committee where it can emerge for a vote or die, and lastly to the governor for executive action.
Davis also responded to a series of questions from Griesel, such as how her Law Center education prepared her for the legislature, and common myths or misconceptions about the Texas Legislature.
“A lot of people just do not understand what it is that we do,” Davis said. “I am not the federal government. I also think it’s important for everyone to understand that being in the Texas House and Senate, the vast majority of us have absolutely no prior experience in the legislature or in government. We come in with a certain passion for issues, but we really don’t know the process. We are learning to become experts at certain things during the 140 days we meet.”
Davis was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010. She was re-elected in 2012 and 2014, and currently serves on the Public Health, Calendars, and Appropriations Committees. She serves as secretary of the Women’s Health Caucus. Her District, 134, includes Bellaire, the Memorial Park area, the Texas Medical Center, and West University Place.