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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Insiders on the Speaker Race and the 2/3rds Rule

For this week's installment of our non-scientific survey of political and policy insiders on issues of the moment, we asked two main questions: "Do you think Joe Straus will win another term as Speaker of the House next year, or do you think it will be someone else?" and "Should the Senate keep or abandon its practice of requiring approval from two-thirds of the senators before raising an issue for debate and approval?" And we asked an open-ended third: "How do you think the election outcomes will affect the legislative session ahead?"

TX GOP works to remove Senate 2/3rds rule

Last week's election left the Republican Party, already in the majority, with an unprecedented advantage in the Texas House. But as Ben Philpott reports for KUT News and the Texas Tribune, even that new advantage isn't enough to guarantee passage of key legislation.
A voter casts a ballot in Travis County on November 2, 2010.
A voter casts a ballot in Travis County on November 2, 2010.

Election Night 2010: The Liveblog

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The Tribune's crack reporting staff — in Houston, Buda and other political hotspots — will be posting the latest news and spin the minute the polls close. Check back and refresh often for updates and photos from the field.

Things We're Thinking About Beyond Election Day

Yes, yes, the governor’s race: It’s tended to suck all the air out of the room this election cycle, hasn’t it? But there’s an undercard as well, and even if it’s received scant attention by comparison, don’t think it doesn’t matter. To the contrary, the outcome of races other than the one at the top of the ballot has serious implications for a great many matters of politics and policy that will affect and should interest every single Texan in the near term.

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.

Freshman House Democrats Struggle to Hold Their Seats

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.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 9/20/10

Aguilar on Mexican journalists in grave danger, Galbraith on the continuing saga of Texas vs. the EPA, Ramshaw on whether a broken hospital bed constitutes medical malpractice, M. Smith on the latest delay in the Cameron Todd Willingham case, Hamilton interviews a Sarah Palin-approved GOP candidate for Congress, Stiles goes all interactive in chronicling the massive increase in legislative filings in the last 20 years, Grissom talks about the criminalization of mental illness with an author who knows the subject first-hand, Philpott on closing the budget gap without federal stimulus money, Ramsey on everyone ignoring down-ballot candidates, Hu on the mysterious lack of Rick Perry yard signs and yours truly sits down with the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor: The best of our best from September 20 to 24, 2010.

Texas Legislature Filing More Bills Than Ever

Legislative filings increased in the Texas House and Senate by 70 percent from 1991 to 2009, records show, and the number of bills and resolutions passed by both chambers climbed at a higher rate. Resolutions alone numbered about 4,000 last session, or more than half of all legislation. Explore our interactive graphics.

Steven Hardin's parents, photographed near his burial plot.
Steven Hardin's parents, photographed near his burial plot.

Murderer Freed on Probation Fails to Comply With Terms

Tow truck driver Steven Hardin was shot and killed in April 1998 by Houston firefighter Barry Crawford during a dispute over a parking space. At the end of a high-profile trial, a jury found Crawford guilty of first-degree murder but sentenced him only to probation. A judge required the convicted killer to comply with various terms, including the payment of child support to the victim's family, but he failed to do all he was ordered. Nonetheless, a few months ago, he was released from his probation, leaving Hardin's mother with no recourse but to lobby for a change in state law.

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.