The time period between Texas legislative sessions is referred to as “the interim.” During this period, senate and house committees are assigned certain topics to study, referred to as interim charges. The committees develop comprehensive reports with recommendations to be considered during the following legislative session. Legislators submit suggestions for interim studies to the legislative leadership. From those recommendations, the final charges are selected. The lieutenant governor assigns charges to the senate committees and the speaker of the house assigns interim charges to the house committees.
This is an opportunity for advocates and other stakeholders to have input into policy direction. Committee members are typically eager to receive suggestions from stakeholders on important topics that need to be addressed. Hundreds of ideas are submitted to legislators for consideration and from these only a select few are forwarded to the lieutenant governor and speaker. The benefit of having an issue addressed during the interim is that it heightens visibility and improves chances for the issue to be on the policy agenda for the next session.
The house interim charges were announced last week. The senate charges will likely follow soon.