Tribpedia: Texas Legislature

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.  

It enacts thousands of laws each session that govern behavior, allocate resources and define the duties of government institutions.

The only bill lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass, however, is the bienniel state budget.

In addition to legislative powers, the Legislature exercises other types of authority. Constituent powers include the ability to alter the state Constitution, and members have authority to exercise powers of attorney on behalf of their constituents. The Legislature is also allowed by statute to regulate the state's administrative system, which comprises boards, commissions and departments that oversee state agencies. The Legislature establishes and funds the departments and agencies and defines their functions.

Legislative sessions

The Texas Constitution limits the regular legislative session to a maximum of 140 days every two years, but the governor has authority to call a special session when necessary. Regular sessions begin on the second Tuesday of January in odd-numbered years.

Special sessions are limited to 30 days each and are limited to a specific "call," or subject matter, determined by the governor.

Terms of office

House members serve two-year terms. To qualify to run for the office, representatives must be at least 21 years old, have been Texas residents for at least two years and residents of the district they wish to represent for at least one year. There is no limit on the number of terms a member can be re-elected.

Senate members are elected to four-year terms. To run for Texas Senate, candidates must be at least 26 years old, have been residents of Texas for five years preceding their election and residents of the district they are seeking for at least one year.

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Republican Konni Burton and Democrat Libby Willis are running for the SD-10 Senate seat being vacated by Wendy Davis.
Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Sept. 21, 2014.