Tribpedia: Texas Legislature

Tribpedia

The Texas Legislature is the chief policymaking branch of state government that the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power in the state. It is a bicameral body composed of an upper chamber, the Texas Senate, and a lower chamber, the Texas House. The 181 members are elected from districts throughout Texas.  

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House Speaker Joe  Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.

Texas Legislature Returns to Austin

The Texas Legislature today starts its 140-day effort to puzzle out a massive budget deficit, political redistricting, immigration and a slew of other gnarly problems. The budget issues came into focus Monday with new numbers from the comptroller, who says the state is recovering, slowly, from the recession. But first, legislators will get organized, voting on new rules, a new Speaker, and getting sworn in.

House and Senate bills filed from 11/8-1/4.
House and Senate bills filed from 11/8-1/4.

Word Cloud Shows Lege Priorities So Far

A new word cloud visualizes the bills filed so far according to their Texas Legislative Council assigned categories. After education, which accounts for more than a quarter of the bills, the top categories are elections, criminal procedure, vehicles and traffic, and taxation. 

Questions That'll Be Answered in 2011

Texas alternates election years with governing years, with legislative sessions set in the odd-numbered years after voters choose their leaders. There are variations, but it’s got a rhythm: Choose them, watch them govern, choose, watch. The elections behind us, it’s time to see what this particular bunch will do.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 12/27/10

Galbraith on why the Lege meets only every two years, Hu picks the year's best political moments on video, Ramsey on the personalities who mattered in 2010, Stiles on lobbyists with conflicts of interest and what the census means for redistricting, yours truly on the new Cameron Todd Willingham documentary, Grissom on cockfighting and Trillin on Sissy Farenthold: The best of our best from Dec. 23 to 27, 2010.

Defying National Trend, Texas Clings to Biennial Legislature

Come January, as Texas lawmakers begin work to pass bills and tackle the yawning budget gap, they will go up against a simple but implacable barrier: time. Texas is one of a dwindling number of states whose legislatures hold scheduled meetings only every two years. Just three other, far smaller states — Montana, North Dakota and Nevada — still have biennial legislative sessions. Lawmakers differ on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, especially for budgeting. Regardless, Texas seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

Sen. Dan Patrick Announces Tea Party Caucus

After the election last month, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, promised to start a Tea Party Caucus in the Texas Legislature. Today, Patrick has the names of the founding members.

U.S. Airforce conduct search and rescue - Galveston Island, Texas, after Hurricane Ike Sept. 13.
U.S. Airforce conduct search and rescue - Galveston Island, Texas, after Hurricane Ike Sept. 13.

Joint Panel Searching for Fixes to Windstorm Coverage

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association offers homeowners along the Texas coast their only coverage against potential hurricanes. But some lawmakers say the pool is paying out too much — and they want to limit what sort of coverage it offers in the future.

What Do Texas Democrats Do Now — and Who'll Lead Them?

Six weeks after the drubbing their party took at the hands of voters, surviving Texas House Democrats find themselves at a crossroads — on style and substance, politics and policy. With massive budget cuts looming, will they effectively sit out the session and force Republicans in the majority to have all the blood on their hands? Will they participate just enough to soften the blow in the areas they care about the most: education and health care? Can they hold together a solid 51-vote bloc on key legislation? Where exactly should they go from here? And who will lead them?

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Endangered at the Lege: White Democratic Women

The force of the GOP wave in November was so strong that black Republicans and Latino Republicans outnumber the Texas House's new endangered species: the white Democratic woman. And if the 16-vote victory of state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, doesn't survive a recount, the species will be extinct.