Tribpedia: Texas House of Representatives

Tribpedia

The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the the Texas Legislature, the other being the Texas Senate. It is considered the "lower" chamber, with 150 members who represent districts of 150,000 people each. The primary legislative power is enacting laws, and the most visible function of the Legislature is to make public policy through drafting, considering and ...

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Freshman House Democrats Struggle to Hold Their Seats

These freshmen state lawmakers are battling to hang onto their seats this fall.
These freshmen state lawmakers are battling to hang onto their seats this fall.

Half a dozen Democratic House members first elected in 2008 face an important test this fall: Can they win re-election on their own merits, without the help of high turnout generated by a popular presidential candidate? Republicans believe the combination of the current anti-incumbent mood, the Obama backlash and the built-in advantage that the GOP enjoys in Texas spells doom for Dems up and down the ballot. But the freshmen playing defense point to a few factors working in their favor.

Rose and Isaac on Immigration and the Budget

In House District 45 — which covers Hays, Blanco and Caldwell counties — incumbent Democrat Patrick Rose faces a stiff challenge from Republican Jason Isaac. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune looks at where the candidates stand on two flashpoints this election year: the budget and immigration.

Do Scandals Necessarily Get Incumbents Defeated?

Double-billing taxpayers for travel expenses, driving a luxury car owned by a state transportation contractor and repeatedly failing to pay taxes won’t put a lawmaker in good standing with the ethics police, as state Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco; Joe Driver, R-Garland; and Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, are finding. The three hope the headlines dogging their re-election bids won’t follow them to the polls, while their Democratic opponents are reveling in their misery at every campaign stop. Yet whether a scandal forces an incumbent from office depends on the scenario.

Former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, on the Texas House floor in 2007
Former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, on the Texas House floor in 2007

Did Lawmaker Access Private Records to Help Donors?

In the closing days of his last term in the Texas House, former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, used his legislative authority to obtain confidential records from the Texas Medical Board, The Texas Tribune has learned. His reason? To defend doctors who he believes were wrongly the subjects of misconduct investigations by the board, which licenses the state's physicians.

Workers' Comp Head Explains His Dismissal of Cases

In this clip from Monday's testimony, Commissioner Rod Bordelon of the state Division of Workers' Compensation explains why he dismissed several cases against doctors that a physician review panel had already sent to enforcement. Under questioning, he admits he looked into the process and subsequently shut it down after a call from state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler.

Top Texas News for the Week of August 23 to 27, 2010

Hu compares and contrasts the official schedules of four big-state governors (including Rick Perry) and picks the 21 Texas House races to watch, Ramshaw on a 19-year-old with an IQ of 47 sentenced to 100 years in prison, Stiles on Perry's regent-donors, Galbraith on a plan to curb the independence of the state's electricity grid, Thevenot on the turf war over mental health, Grissom on whether the Texas Youth Commission should be abolished, Aguilar on a crucial immigration-related case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Ramsey's interview with GOP provocateur Debra Medina and M. Smith on how changes to campaign finance law will affect judicial elections in Texas: The best of our best from August 23 to 27, 2010.

Top Texas House Races to Watch

Only 10 days out from Labor Day — the unofficial start of the campaign season — we bring you a scouting report on the 21 Texas House races to watch. We based our picks on dozens of interviews with politicos and our own analysis of district voting patterns, campaign coffers, the relative strength of the candidates and issues that could turn each contest. Most of the vulnerable incumbents are Democrats, which is no surprise in a Republican year. But a few veteran R's are at risk, thanks to alleged ethical lapses that could swing voters against the national mood.

The political mud season is underway
The political mud season is underway

Do Controversial People, Acts and Money Rub Off?

The mud-throwing season is underway, with candidates on both sides working overtime to tie their opponents to controversial people, acts and money, hoping the negative mojo rubs off. Democrats are pushing anchor-baby videos of state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler. Republicans slam their Democratic foes for taking contributions from ethically suspect U.S. Reps. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. "Both sides have folks who do what they do," says a rueful Texas Republican who doesn't want his name next to those of his party's outspoken officeholders.

Mark P. Jones, political science chair at Rice University.
Mark P. Jones, political science chair at Rice University.

Rice Professor Discusses Texas House Partisanship

Mark P. Jones, political science chairman at Rice University, recently ranked Texas House members' partisanship based on their 2009 legislative votes. The study, which we've used to create an interactive chart, shows Texas' increasingly polarized political environment, Jones says in an interview.