Article III, Section 12 of the Texas Constitution

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As amended November 6, 2007:

(a) Each house of the legislature shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish the same.

(b) A vote taken by either house must be by record vote with the vote of each member entered in the journal of that house if the vote is on final passage of a bill, a resolution proposing or ratifying a constitutional amendment, or another resolution other than a resolution of a purely ceremonial or honorary nature. Either house by rule may provide for exceptions to this requirement for a bill that applies only to one district or political subdivision of this state. For purposes of this subsection, a vote on final passage includes a vote on third reading in a house, or on second reading if the house suspends the requirement for three readings, on whether to concur in the other house's amendments, and on whether to adopt a conference committee report.

(c) The yeas and nays of the members of either house on any other question shall, at the desire of any three members present, be entered on the journals.

(d) Each house shall make each record vote required under Subsection (b) of this section, including the vote of each individual member as recorded in the journal of that house, available to the public for a reasonable period of not less than two years through the Internet or a successor electronic communications system accessible by the public. For a record vote on a bill or on a resolution proposing or ratifying a constitutional amendment, the record vote must be accessible to the public by reference to the designated number of the bill or resolution and by reference to its subject.

Editor Comments

The "enrolled bill rule" limits the use of certain information set forth in the journals by litigants alleging that the Legislature failed to comply with constitutionally mandated procedures.

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

None.

Historic Decisions

  • Ass'n of Tex. Prof'l Educators v. Kirby, 788 S.W.2d 827, 830 (Tex. 1990) ("We therefore recognize as a narrow exception to the enrolled bill rule that when the official legislative journals, undisputed testimony by the presiding officers of both houses, and stipulations by the attorney general acting in his official capacity conclusively show the enrolled bill signed by the governor was not the bill passed by the legislature, the law is not constitutionally enacted. When the official legislative journals, presiding officers and attorney general all concur that the enrolled bill is not the bill passed by the legislature, the exception applies as a matter of law.")
  • Denison v. State, 61 S.W.2d 1022, 1024 (Tex. 1933) ("We would have quite a different case if we had before us a contention that Mr. Denison did receive a two-thirds vote of the Senate present; that the letter of Mr. Barker, its secretary, was incorrect; and that the Journal entry, to the effect that he had not been confirmed, was untrue. We would then be confronted with a very delicate and important question (not necessary to be determined here), as to whether or not the courts may go behind the Journal entries of the Senate. Here, however, there is no question of the inaccuracy or incorrectness of the Journal entry, or of the letter of the Secretary of the Senate.")
  • Jackson v. Walker, 49 S.W.2d 693, 694 (Tex. 1932) ("This is a very interesting question, but to review the decisions of the various courts [in other states] bearing upon this question would prolong this opinion beyond its proper length. The rule has long been established in this state that a duly authenticated, approved, and enrolled statute imports absolute verity and is conclusive; that the act was passed in every respect as designated by the Constitution; and that resort may not be had to the proclamation of the Governor and to the journals of the two houses to invalidate the law. This rule has been followed by the various courts of this state.")
  • Parshall v. State, 138 S.W. 759, 763 (Tex.Crim.App. 1911) ("Both this court and our Supreme Court, in well-considered opinions, have adopted that construction of the constitutional provision to the effect that where the Constitution does not affirmatively require the journals to show a given fact that the enrolled bill, properly attested by the presiding officer of each house of the Legislature, approved by the Governor, filed in the Secretary of State's office, and published under the authority of the state as a valid act of the Legislature, is absolutely conclusive of the validity thereof, in accordance with the construction first mentioned just above.")
  • Williams v. Taylor, 19 S.W. 156, 157 (Tex. 1892) ("On the contrary, we think the more obvious purpose of the provision was to preserve a record of the action of the individual members of the house, to the end that these constituents should fix upon them a proper responsibility for their conduct. In the absence of some declaration or language in the constitution showing that it was intended that the journals of the two houses should have a conclusive effect in determining whether the acts of the legislature have properly ripened into laws, we should hesitate long before conceding to them such an effect by remote implications.")

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