Texas Legislature
Overview
 
The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate
Texas Senate
The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing 31 single-member districts across the state with populations of approximately 672,000 per constituency. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. The Senate meets at the...

 and a 150-member House of Representatives
Texas House of Representatives
The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Texas Legislature. The House is composed of 150 members elected from single-member districts across the state. The average district has about 150,000 people. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits...

. The Legislature meets at the Capitol
Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is located in Austin, Texas, and is the fourth building to be the house of Texas government in Austin. It houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. It was designed originally during 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, and was...

 in Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

. The Legislature is arguably considered the most powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse
Power of the purse
The power of the purse is the ability of one group to manipulate and control the actions of another group by withholding funding, or putting stipulations on the use of funds. The power of the purse can be used to save their money and positively or negatively The power of the purse is the ability...

 to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the U.S. It is the second most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the...

, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

The Legislature is the constitutional successor of the Congress of the Republic of Texas
Congress of the Republic of Texas
The Congress of the Republic of Texas was the national legislature of the Republic of Texas established by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836. It was a bicameral legislature based on the model of the United States Congress...

 since Texas's 1845 entrance into the Union
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.
Encyclopedia
The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate
Texas Senate
The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing 31 single-member districts across the state with populations of approximately 672,000 per constituency. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. The Senate meets at the...

 and a 150-member House of Representatives
Texas House of Representatives
The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Texas Legislature. The House is composed of 150 members elected from single-member districts across the state. The average district has about 150,000 people. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits...

. The Legislature meets at the Capitol
Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is located in Austin, Texas, and is the fourth building to be the house of Texas government in Austin. It houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. It was designed originally during 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, and was...

 in Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

. The Legislature is arguably considered the most powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse
Power of the purse
The power of the purse is the ability of one group to manipulate and control the actions of another group by withholding funding, or putting stipulations on the use of funds. The power of the purse can be used to save their money and positively or negatively The power of the purse is the ability...

 to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the U.S. It is the second most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the...

, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

The Legislature is the constitutional successor of the Congress of the Republic of Texas
Congress of the Republic of Texas
The Congress of the Republic of Texas was the national legislature of the Republic of Texas established by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836. It was a bicameral legislature based on the model of the United States Congress...

 since Texas's 1845 entrance into the Union
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Legislature held its first regular session
First Texas Legislature
The First Texas Legislature convened from 16 February to 13 May 1846 in regular session. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate were elected in December 1845, after an election on 13 October 1845 that ratified the proposed state constitution....

 from February 16 to May 13, 1846.

Structure and operations

The Legislature meets in regular session on the second Tuesday in January of each odd-numbered year. The Texas Constitution
Texas Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Texas is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of the U.S. State of Texas.Texas has had seven constitutions: the constitution of Coahuila y Tejas, the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, the state constitutions of 1845,...

 limits the regular session to 140 calendar days. The lieutenant governor
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the U.S. It is the second most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the...

, elected statewide separately from the governor
Governor of Texas
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

, presides over the Senate, while the Speaker of the House
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the Texas House of Representatives. The Speaker's main duties are to conduct meetings of the House, appoint committees, and enforce the Rules 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 wishes. For example, Governor Rick Perry
Rick Perry
James Richard "Rick" Perry is the 47th and current Governor of Texas. A Republican, Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was elected to full...

 called three consecutive sessions to address the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting
2003 Texas redistricting
The 2003 Texas redistricting refers to a controversial mid-decade congressional redistricting plan appealed to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry...

. 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, of course, 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. Currently (2011), a majority of the members of each chamber are members of the Republican Party.

Qualification for service

The Texas Constitution sets the qualifications for election to each house as follows:
  • A senator must be at least 26 years of age, a citizen of Texas five years prior to election and a resident of the district from which elected one year prior to election. Each senator serves a four-year term and one-half of the Senate membership is elected every two years in even-numbered years, with the exception that the 2 Senate seats are up for election for the first legislature following the decennial census in order to reflect the newly redrawn districts. After the initial election, the Senate is divided by lot into two classes, with one class having a re-election after two years and the other having a re-election after four years.

  • A representative must be at least 21 years of age, a citizen of Texas for two years prior to election and a resident of the district from which elected one year prior to election. They are elected for two-year terms, running for re-election in even-numbered years.


Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate has term limits
Term limits in the United States
Term limits in the United States apply to many offices at both the federal and state level, and date back to the American Revolution.-Pre-constitution:...

.

Salary of Legislative Officials

State legislators in Texas make $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, plus a per diem of $150 for every day the Legislature is in session (also including any special sessions). That adds up to $28,200 a year for a regular session (140 days).

Makeup of the Texas House of Representatives

Affiliation Members
  Republican Party 101
  Democratic Party 49
 Total
150

Makeup of the Texas Senate

Affiliation Members
  Republican Party 19
  Democratic Party 12
 Total
31

Support Agencies

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

Those five agencies are:
  • Texas Legislative Budget Board;
  • Texas Legislative Council;
  • Texas Legislative Reference Library;
  • Texas State Auditor; and
  • Texas Sunset Advisory Commission

Scandals

  • On May 14, 2007, CBS
    CBS
    CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

     Austin affiliate KEYE
    KEYE-TV
    KEYE-TV, digital channel 43 , is the CBS affiliate in Austin, Texas. It is owned by the Four Points Media Group, LLC Sinclair Broadcasting Group has announced a purchase of the the Four Points stations, and has begun operating KEYE-TV through a local service agreement in anticipation of FCC...

     reported on the rampant multiple voting by members of the Texas House of Representatives
    Texas House of Representatives
    The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Texas Legislature. The House is composed of 150 members elected from single-member districts across the state. The average district has about 150,000 people. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits...

     during a voting session. The report noted how representatives would race to the nearest empty seats to register votes for absent members on the legislature's automated voting machines. Each representative would vote for the nearest absent members, apparently regardless of party affiliation. This practice was in direct violation of a Rule of the Texas Legislature; however, no house member had ever been disciplined for the practice. The then-Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, responsible for enforcement of the rule, issued a statement that discipline for violations of the rule is left to the individual house members.

See also

  • Texas Legislature elections, 2006
  • Texas Legislature elections, 2008
    Texas Legislature elections, 2008
    2008 elections for the Texas Legislature were held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, in the U.S. state of Texas. The Texas Legislature election was conducted concurrently with the election for the 2008 United States presidential race, the United States Senate seat of Republican John Cornyn, and the...

  • Sunset Advisory Commission
    Sunset Advisory Commission
    The Sunset Advisory Commission is an agency of the Texas Legislature, that makes recommendations to the Legislature on the continued need for the existence of various state agencies. It is headquartered in the Robert E...


Further reading

  • "Citizen Handbook". The Senate of Texas. Retrieved 13 September 2009.. Retrieved 13 April 2005.
  • Stanley K. Young, Texas Legislative Handbook (1973).
  • Univ. of Tex., The Legislative Branch in Texas Politics, http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu/html/leg/0200.html (last accessed Oct. 8, 2006) (stating that "The Texas Legislature is the most powerful of the three main branches of government[,]" primarily because it is "less weak than the other branches").
  • See also: Texas Government Newsletter
    Texas Government Newsletter
    Texas Government Newsletter was originally published 40 times a year during the regular college school year, as a weekly publication edited primarily for college students who are taking Texas Government courses...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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