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Thayer says short session suffered because of too many bills filed

During this year’s 29-day short session, lawmakers filed 209 bills in the Senate and 548 bills in the House, a pace that has one leader calling for change.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said lawmakers found success within divided government in the 2015 session — though he said the number of bills hinders the process.

“Part of the problem is there are so many bills being filed — as the floor leader I see them all,” Thayer said. “It’s tough to manage the expectations of the folks who are inclined to support their bills. … It’s really getting, from an operational point of view, to a point where it’s almost too much for us to consider.”

The average number of bills in 2015 for both the House and the Senate was nearly 5.5 bills per senator and representative. During 2013’s 30-day session, lawmakers in the Senate filed 213 bills and the House 458, meaning nearly 100 more bills were filed this year.

Even-numbered 60-days sessions, like the session lawmakers are gearing up for in 2016, are historically spent negotiating the multibillion-dollar biennial budget and two-year road plan.

When asked if legislators or a body should reach a cap on the total number of bills filed, Thayer said they should but that’s “easier said than done.”

“It might take self-imposed rules by the caucuses about the number of bills that can be filed because the more bills that are filed the more pressure there is,” he said.