Texas State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
HousesSenate
House of Representatives
History
FoundedMarch 10, 1836 (1836-03-10)
Leadership
Dan Patrick (R)
since January 20, 2015
Dade Phelan (R)
since January 12, 2021
Structure
Seats181
31 Senators
150 Representatives
Texas Senate composition 2021.svg
Senate political groups
  •   Republican (18)
  •   Democratic (13)
Texas House Composition Nov 2021.svg
House political groups
Elections
Senate last election
November 3, 2020
House last election
November 3, 2020
Senate next election
November 8, 2022
House next election
November 8, 2022
Meeting place
Texas State Capitol building-front left front oblique view.JPG
Texas State Capitol, Austin
Website
https://capitol.texas.gov

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.

Structure and operations

The Texas Legislature meets in regular session on the second Tuesday in January of each odd-numbered year.[1] 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 he or she desires. 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.[citation needed] As of 2020, a majority of the members of each chamber are members of the Republican Party.

Qualifications for service

The Texas Constitution sets the qualifications for election to each house as follows:[2]

Salary of legislative officials

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.[5][6] Legislators receive a pension after eight years of service, starting at age 60.[7]

Makeup

Senate

Seal of the Texas State Senate.
Seal of the Texas State Senate.

Main article: Texas Senate

Affiliation Members
  Republican Party 18
  Democratic Party 13
 Total
31
Senate Districts and Party Affiliation after the 2020 Election   Republican Party   Democratic Party
Senate Districts and Party Affiliation after the 2020 Election
  Republican Party
  Democratic Party

House of Representatives

Seal of the Texas House of Representatives.
Seal of the Texas House of Representatives.

Main article: Texas House of Representatives

Affiliation Members
  Republican Party 82
  Democratic Party 67
  Vacant 1
 Total
150
House Districts and Party Affiliation after the 2020 Election   Republican Party   Democratic Party
House Districts and Party Affiliation after the 2020 Election
  Republican Party
  Democratic Party

2021 House quorum bust

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] The bill passed upon the eventual return of enough state Democrats to constitute a quorum in the legislature.

Support agencies

The Texas Legislature has five support agencies that are within the legislative branch of state government.

Those five agencies are as follows:

Scandals

See also

References

  1. ^ Texas Government Code 301.001
  2. ^ "Qualifications for Office". Sos.state.tx.us. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Texas House of Representatives – Frequently Asked Questions
  4. ^ "THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 3. LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT". statutes.capitol.texas.gov. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  5. ^ "THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 3. LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT". Statutes.legis.state.tx.us. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  6. ^ "Chapter 50, Ethics Commission Rules". Ethics.state.tx.us. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "Legislators With Benefits, Even When They Stray". The New York Times. April 12, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Timm, Jane C. (July 12, 2021). "Texas Democrats flee state in effort to block GOP-backed voting restrictions". NBC News.
  9. ^ Allen, Mike (July 13, 2021). "Texas Dems fly to Swamp to run out clock". Axios. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Barrágan, James (August 10, 2021). "Texas Supreme Court allows for arrest of Democrats who don't show up to Legislature". The Texas Tribune.
  11. ^ Blankley, Bethany (August 11, 2021). "Texas Speaker Phelan signs arrest warrants for 52 AWOL House Democrats". Tyler Morning Telegraph.
  12. ^ a b CBS Channel 42 KeyeTV Investigates: One Lawmaker, Many Votes?, May 14, 2007, available at "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG6X-xtVask"; see also Wilson, Nanci, One Lawmaker, Many Votes?, May 14, 2007, available at "www.keyetv.com/topstories/local_story_134224129.html"[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Hoppe, Christy (March 24, 2011). "Some Texas lawmakers cast votes for fellow members on bill Meant to Protect Elections". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 11, 2017.

Further reading