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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Talk of Term Limits is Back, With Tea Party Support

Limiting the terms of lawmakers was a sexy idea 20 years ago, when Republicans were trying to unseat Democrats. Now it's back. The goo-goos — the good government types — think the turnover would produce a stream of fresh policy ideas. The revolutionaries — the Tea Party folk — want to replace the current bums with fresh ones, preferably from their flock.

For Donors, the Political Season Comes to an End

The "late train" — the rush of supplicants making kiss-and-make-up contributions after an election — ended this weekend with the beginning of a blackout that outlaws political donations during a legislative session. The blackout is designed to create some distance between the giving of political money and the casting of governmental votes.

Rep. Dan Branch R-Dallas and Sen. Judith Zaffirini D-Laredo, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence & Transparency during meeting on September 21st, 2011
Rep. Dan Branch R-Dallas and Sen. Judith Zaffirini D-Laredo, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence & Transparency during meeting on September 21st, 2011

In Higher Education, More Bang Without More Bucks

Texas Weekly

For higher education in the 83rd Legislative Session, the central theme will be finding ways to get more bang for the same amount bucks, if not less. Of the bills filed thus far, the one to watch is most likely House Bill 25 by House Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

For Freshman Legislators, Washington is No Texas

Freshman legislators are getting their first look at Washington and Austin, and the differences are as clear as red and blue. The new members of Congress from Texas weren’t exactly showered with greetings from their new workmates. Maybe it’s a difference in how lawmakers shop for allies and for votes in the nation’s capital.

Travis County Democratic Party volunteers make calls to voters on Election Day from the coordinated campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Travis County Democratic Party volunteers make calls to voters on Election Day from the coordinated campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Texas Democrats Gained, if Only a Little, in 2012

Texas Democrats don't hold any statewide offices, and they are terribly outnumbered in the state Legislature, but they were the only gainers in this year's elections. They held their ground in the Senate, gained seven seats in the House, split the four new seats in Congress and wrested another one away from the red team. The rebound from the disastrous 2010 election was not dramatic, but a gain is a gain.

New Legislative Faces — and an Experience Deficit

With 43 legislators in the freshman class and 24 more who were new after the 2010 elections, the 150-member Texas House has a lot of new blood — and a lot of inexperienced officeholders. They aren’t stupid, and some are quite smart. But their lack of experience will become evident as they run into the particular quirks of the Texas Legislature.

Get to Know the Newest Texas Lawmakers

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With the general election in the books, the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegations from Texas have more than four dozen new members between them. Get to know the new lawmakers' backgrounds and faces.

State Representative Trey Martinez-Fischer, right, and District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriguez, left, greet Rodriguez's grandmother, Inez Randon Ramirez, and her friend, Mary Barker as they get out the message to vote at the Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior Center in San Antonio, Friday, October 26, 2012.
State Representative Trey Martinez-Fischer, right, and District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriguez, left, greet Rodriguez's grandmother, Inez Randon Ramirez, and her friend, Mary Barker as they get out the message to vote at the Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior Center in San Antonio, Friday, October 26, 2012.

Outspoken Democrat Has Knack for Political Sparring

The outnumbered Democrats have plenty of leaders, insists state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. But that hasn’t stopped the outspoken chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus from taking center stage in the Texas House. On issues like redistricting and voter ID, he’s known as an unrelenting bulldog. 

 

UT/TT Poll: Texans Are Leery of Government

News flash: Texans aren't big fans of the state government in Austin, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. But if you really want to get their dander up, ask about the government in Washington. The least trusted branch of the federal government? Congress, by a mile.

Texas Senator Dan Patrick in his Houston Disctrict 7 office in Houston Tuesday, October 23, 2012.
Texas Senator Dan Patrick in his Houston Disctrict 7 office in Houston Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

Senate Public Ed Chair Patrick Focuses on School Choice

Dan Patrick, the new Senate Public Education Committee chairman, says he will continue to champion public schools at the Capitol. Whether the education community is ready to embrace Patrick, who has pinned his ambitions on expanding school choice in the state, is another matter.

Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the site in Jonestown, Texas, where volunteers will build a home for injured war veteran Augustine "Augie" Pena.
Gov. Rick Perry, speaks at the site in Jonestown, Texas, where volunteers will build a home for injured war veteran Augustine "Augie" Pena.

Aide's Talk About 2014 May Benefit Perry in 2013

When Ken Armbrister, chief legislative aide to Gov. Rick Perry, said last week that Perry had told him he was going to run for re-election in 2014, Armbrister may have done his boss a favor. Those who thought they might be dealing with a lame duck during the 2013 legislative session have something to think about.

State Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr., D-Houston, questions Sen. Robert Duncan on a finance bill late in the session May 29, 2011.
State Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr., D-Houston, questions Sen. Robert Duncan on a finance bill late in the session May 29, 2011.

Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos Jr. Dies

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Mario Gallegos Jr., the first Hispanic state senator elected to represent a Harris County district, died Tuesday at age 62 following complications associated with his 2007 liver transplant. Gallegos was "a devoted public servant who proudly represented the people of Senate District 6 for the last 17 years," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in a written statement.

John Montford with www.lettexansdecide.com
John Montford with www.lettexansdecide.com

John Montford: The TT Interview

The former prosecutor, state lawmaker, Texas Tech chancellor and AT&T executive talks about his latest initiative to make casino gambling legal in Texas. The sponsor of legislation that made the lottery legal two decades ago is back with a similar pitch to let voters decide whether to bring more gambling to the state.

Glenn Foore planting cabbage on Springdale Farm, Austin, Tex. on September 11, 2012
Glenn Foore planting cabbage on Springdale Farm, Austin, Tex. on September 11, 2012

Farm to Table Caucus Advances Local Food Movement

A Democrat from Austin is finding common ground with Republicans and rural Texans. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and the rest of the Farm to Table Caucus are hoping to reduce barriers to local, healthy food. The first caucus of its kind in the nation, the bipartisan group aims to reduce obesity and the health problems it brings.