Texas State Legislature
House of Representatives
|Founded||March 10, 1836|
Dan Patrick (R)
since January 20, 2015
Dade Phelan (R)
since January 12, 2021
Senate political groups
House political groups
Senate last election
|November 8, 2022|
House last election
|November 8, 2022|
Senate next election
|November 5, 2024|
House next election
|November 5, 2024|
|Texas State Capitol, Austin|
The Texas Legislature is the state legislature of the US state of Texas. It is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.
The Legislature is the constitutional successor of the Congress of the Republic of Texas since Texas's 1845 entrance into the Union. The Legislature held its first regular session from February 16 to May 13, 1846.
The Texas Legislature meets in regular session on the second Tuesday in January of each odd-numbered year. The Texas Constitution limits the regular session to 140 calendar days. The lieutenant governor, elected statewide separately from the governor, presides over the Senate, while the Speaker of the House is elected from that body by its members. Both have wide latitude in choosing committee membership in their respective houses and have a large impact on lawmaking in the state.
Only the governor may call the Legislature into special sessions, unlike other states where the legislature may call itself into session. The governor may call as many sessions as desired. For example, Governor Rick Perry called three consecutive sessions to address the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting. The Texas Constitution limits the duration of each special session to 30 days; lawmakers may consider only those issues designated by the governor in his "call," or proclamation convening the special session (though other issues may be added by the Governor during a session).
Any bill passed by the Legislature takes effect 90 days after its passage unless two-thirds of each house votes to give the bill either immediate effect or earlier effect. The Legislature may provide for an effective date that is after the 90th day. Under current legislative practice, most bills are given an effective date of September 1 in odd-numbered years (September 1 is the start of the state's fiscal year).
Although members are elected on partisan ballots, both houses of the Legislature are officially organized on a nonpartisan basis, with members of both parties serving in leadership positions such as committee chairmanships. As of 2020, a majority of the members of each chamber are members of the Republican Party.
The Texas Constitution sets the qualifications for election to each house as follows:
State legislators in Texas make $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, plus a per diem of $221 for every day the Legislature is in session (also including any special sessions). That adds up to $38,140 a year for a regular session (140 days), with the total pay for a two-year term being $45,340. Legislators receive a pension after eight years of service, starting at age 60.
Main article: Texas Senate
Main article: Texas House of Representatives
On July 12, 2021, during a special session, at least 51 Democratic members of the House fled the state in two charter jets bound for Washington, D.C., in an effort to block Republican-backed election legislation from passing. The lawmakers planned to spend at least three weeks in Washington, running out the clock on the special session, which began July 8. During their time away from the state legislative chambers, they also advocated for federal voting legislation such as the For the People Act.
Governor Abbott stated that representatives, upon return to the state, would be arrested and escorted to the state legislative chambers to fulfill their lawmaking duties. He additionally noted he would use his power to call successive special sessions until such a time as the legislature met quorum to vote on the bill. After the first special session expired on August 6, Governor Abbott called a second session the next day. State District Judge Brad Urrutia granted a restraining order on August 9 temporarily protecting the absent Democrats from arrest by the state, however this restraining order was overturned by the Texas Supreme Court. On August 10, with the chamber still lacking a quorum, Speaker Dade Phelan issued arrest warrants for the 52 absent Democratic members of the House. The bill passed upon the eventual return of enough state Democrats to constitute a quorum in the legislature.
The Texas Legislature has five support agencies that are within the legislative branch of state government.
Those five agencies are as follows: