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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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.

Firemen look for hot spots along Texas Highway 21 on September 13, 2011 after last week's devastating wildfires.
Firemen look for hot spots along Texas Highway 21 on September 13, 2011 after last week's devastating wildfires.

Lawmakers Hear Plea for More Fire Department Funding

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With the threat of wildfires still looming, firefighters across the state are facing critical funding shortages, state legislators were told at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.

Senate Hearing Tackles Vouchers, School Choice

In a preview of a likely battle in the upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee on Friday heard testimony on school choice programs, including vouchers that would allow students to use public money to attend private schools. 

State Rep. Charlie Geren, the head of the House Administration Committee, wrote a letter to his fellow House members saying that they were "under no legal obligation"to accommodate a Texas Tribune request to submit three years of tax returns.
State Rep. Charlie Geren, the head of the House Administration Committee, wrote a letter to his fellow House members saying that they were "under no legal obligation"to accommodate a Texas Tribune request to submit three years of tax returns.

With Transparency, There's Room to Improve

Lawmakers say they want transparency and that the public should be able to see their finances. But state disclosure requirements allow officeholders and candidates to report their financial interests vaguely enough to hide their interests.

Interactive Map: Texas House Committees in 82nd Session

Texas Weekly

Use this interactive to explore the geographic distribution of committee members in the Texas House, by committee, to see who's got what clout on what subject. Choose a committee and the map highlights the district of each member and, in a different color, the home districts of the chairs, vice chairs and co-chairs.