Legislative measures fall into two categories, bills and resolutions. They are the documents by which the Legislature expresses its will and they have to be examined daily during a legislative session.
Bills are proposals to change state law by adding a new law to the books or by changing provisions of an existing statute. A bill can be clearly identified by its basic structure since it always begins with these words printed in the middle at the top of its first page.
A Bill to be Enacted
Individual bills are distinguished by a tracking system used by the Legislature. Under this system, each bill is assigned a prefix, either HB or SB, depending on if it was introduced in the House or Senate, respectively, and a number that shows when it was introduced.
For example, the first bill filed in the House would be HB No.1, the second HB No.2, and so forth. Similarly, the first bill introduced in the Senate is SB No.1. (Sometimes this is shortened to HB 1, SB 1, etc.) These prefixes and numbers stay with the bill throughout the legislative process and are an easy way to identify a particular bill.
Resolutions are statements of opinions and, unlike bills, do not have the force of law. Resolutions cover a wide range of issues and come in three different forms: Joint Resolutions, Concurrent Resolutions, and Simple Resolutions.
Joint Resolutions are proposals to amend the Texas Constitution or to ratify a proposed change in the U.S. Constitution. Concurrent Resolutions are usually expressions of the Legislature's feelings on a subject, instructions to state agencies, or proposals to set up a special study of some issue during the interim between legislative sessions. Simple Resolutions are,, commonly, expressions of the Legislature's sympathy upon a death or congratulations to an individual or group for an accomplishment. The form of the resolution is identified at the beginning of the text on the first page of the resolution.
A letter and numbering system is also used to distinguish one resolution from another. For example, the fourth Joint Resolution filed in the House would be HJR No.4, while the fourth Joint Resolution filed in the Senate would be SJR No.4. Similarly, Concurrent Resolutions and Simple Resolutions that originate in the House are labeled as HCR No. and HR No.; those that start in the Senate are labeled SCR No. and SR No. (whatever the number may be). In the examples given, the resolutions are commonly referred to as HJR 4, SCR 4, and HR 4, omitting "No."
Both the House and Senate must adopt Concurrent and Joint Resolutions. Simple resolutions are considered only by the chamber in which they are introduced.