The Legislature's only "must" bill, the state budget for the upcoming two fiscal years, has now passed both the House and the Senate — but reconciling the two versions will take weeks.
HB 1 passed the House in early April; the Senate debated the budget on the Senate floor Monday but substituted its own version as it passed out of the Senate Finance Committee April 12.
The next step will be for HB 1 to return to the House. The House can accept the Senate's changes or (as expected) reject them and request a conference committee. This committee of five senators and five House members will spend the next few weeks negotiating the differences between the two bills.
While conference committees usually are able to develop a compromise version of the budget, failure to do so, or failure for the conference committee version to subsequently pass the House and Senate, would almost certainly require a special session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has threatened as much when asked about school vouchers, saying in an interview, "I can't call a special session, but I can create one by not passing a key bill that has to pass." The House and Senate are at odds over not only vouchers, but a preferred approach to achieving property tax relief.
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