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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Bill Hobby on the 1984 Education Reform Battle

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As chairman of the Select Committee of Public Education in the '80s, Ross Perot took on high school athletics hammer and tongs: “If the people of Texas want Friday night entertainment instead of education," he said, "let’s find out about it." An excerpt from the forthcoming How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics.

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.

A joint meeting between the House Elections and Judiciary committees on Aug. 26, 2010
A joint meeting between the House Elections and Judiciary committees on Aug. 26, 2010

Will SCOTUS Opinions Affect TX Judicial Elections?

Do two recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions have the far-reaching effects on Texas judicial elections that some in our legal community fear? Or do the state's current campaign finance laws adequately address the issues presented by both cases?

Documents Reveal Deficit in Texas State Budget

Comptroller Susan Combs' quiet acknowledgment that Texas will show a $1.3 billion deficit at the end of the budget year contrasts with the happy face she's put on state finances leading up to the 2010 elections. The numbers are the worst since 2003, when the Legislature responded with $10 billion in spending cuts, and increased fees, tuition and other revenue sources.

Projecting Success of Failing Students Often Wrong

Last school year, the Texas Education Agency implemented a new “growth measure” purported to reward schools for improving student performance — even if they still fail state tests. The effect on state accountability ratings was immediate and dramatic: The number of campuses considered “exemplary” by the state doubled, to 2,158. But a new analysis shows the projections of future student success may be wrong as much as half the time.

Division of Workers' Compensation Commissioner Rod Bordelon and the Sunset Advisory Commission, May 26, 2010.
Division of Workers' Compensation Commissioner Rod Bordelon and the Sunset Advisory Commission, May 26, 2010.

Sunset Commission to Vote on Workers' Comp Changes

Physician fraud investigators inside the troubled Division of Workers' Compensation say state examiners failed to uncover serious problems there — and then recommended changes that would take key decisions away from trained physicians and give them to bureaucrats.

State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving.
State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving.

Car Driven by N Texas Lawmaker Raises Ethics Questions

Tribune news partner WFAA-TV reports that state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, and her husband are driving cars owned by a highway contractor doing millions of dollars in business with the state. All the while, Harper-Brown sits on the influential House Transportation Committee.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 17, 2010

Thevenot on the ideological backbiting at the internationally famous State Board of Education; Stiles, Narioka and Hamilton plumb employee salary data in Texas colleges and universities; Grissom looks at the problem of insufficient indigent defense; Cervantes on the push for "veterans courts" emphasizing treatment and counseling over punishment; Aguilar finds border congressmen asking the governor for a fair break on federal homeland security dollars; M. Smith on another BP rig in the Gulf; Ramshaw reports on nurse practitioners trying to get permission slips from doctors; Hu follows up with lawmakers poking at whistleblower allegations of trouble in the state's workers' compensation regulation; Hamilton stops in on Luke Hayes and his efforts to turn Texas into a political powerhouse for Obama; and Ramsey writes on generation changes at the Capitol and on political pranksters: The best of our best from May 17 to 21, 2010.

An announcement board in an Austin unemployment office.
An announcement board in an Austin unemployment office.

TX Lawmakers continue fight over federal stimulus

Rick Perry made national headlines last year when he announced Texas was turning down unemployment insurance benefits available as part of the federal stimulus package. Attempts by state lawmakers to get their hands on the money anyway ran out of time at the end of the Legislative session, but as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the $555 million is still there for the taking.

Gayle Avant
Gayle Avant

Special Senate Election in Waco

On May 8, voters in Senate District 22 will choose one of these candidates as Kip Averitt's successor: a veteran lawmaker-turned-lobbyist in a bad year for that kind of hyphenate, a 9/11 Pentagon survivor with residency questions dangling over his campaign, a Tea-steeped nullification fan and ... a Democrat.