Tribpedia: Texas Senate

The Texas Senate is the upper chamber of the state's bicameral Legislature. It is comprised of 31 state senators and the lieutenant governor, who serves as president of the Senate.

Senators serve four-year terms and are not term limited.

The second-highest post in the Senate is the president pro-tempore, who can come from either party and is usually determined ...

Analysis: Abbott's Caution on Display in Tax Fight

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he has problems with a proposed state budget that includes significant business franchise taxes during a Tax Day press conference on April 15, 2015.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he has problems with a proposed state budget that includes significant business franchise taxes during a Tax Day press conference on April 15, 2015.

Texans grew accustomed to the swagger and bombast of Rick Perry, a governor who didn’t shy from confrontation with the Legislature and upended the notion that his office was inherently weak. Newly elected Gov. Greg Abbott, ever cautious and lawyerly, is cutting a different path.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation legislative orientation session on Jan. 7, 2015.
State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation legislative orientation session on Jan. 7, 2015.

Analysis: A Senate Trying to Regulate Its Own Spending

The Texas Senate wants to limit growth in the state budget — by adding a fifth spending limit to state law. In addition to the current limit commonly referred to as the state's spending cap, there are also limits on issuing debt, on certain assistance grants and on spending more than what lawmakers have.

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, lays out the property tax relief portion of Senate Bill 1 for final passage in the Senate on March 25, 2015.
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, lays out the property tax relief portion of Senate Bill 1 for final passage in the Senate on March 25, 2015.

Texas Senate Approves $211 Billion Budget

Senators on Tuesday voted 30-1 to approve the state's two-year budget plan. Now, attention will turn to reconciling differences with the House on budget issues involving taxes, border security and the Texas Racing Commission.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation legislative orientation session on Jan. 7, 2015.
State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation legislative orientation session on Jan. 7, 2015.

Senate Passes Bill That Would Tighten Spending Cap

The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would tighten the state's constitutional spending cap and make it tougher for future legislatures to break it. Senate Bill 9, proposed by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, passed with a vote of 19-12. Sen. Kevin Eltife was the only Republican to vote against the measure. 

State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, speaks during an interview with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith on April 9, 2015.
State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, speaks during an interview with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith on April 9, 2015.

Analysis: Something More Conservative Than Tax Cuts?

As the House and Senate engage in what state Sen. Kevin Eltife calls "a bidding war" over cuts to sales and property taxes, the Tyler Republican is sticking to his guns: He thinks lawmakers should look at neglected projects before they cut taxes.

The Japanese Shinkansen is a high-speed trail used by JR Central in Japan. A private company is planning to build a rail line between Dallas and Houston using the same trains.
The Japanese Shinkansen is a high-speed trail used by JR Central in Japan. A private company is planning to build a rail line between Dallas and Houston using the same trains.

Senate Bill Targeting Bullet Train Project Advances

On a 5-4 vote, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would hobble a private company’s plan to build a $12 billion high-speed rail line from Dallas to Houston.

Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, confers with Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, during a March 11, 2015, committee hearing on state contracting issues.
Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, confers with Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, during a March 11, 2015, committee hearing on state contracting issues.

Contracting Overhaul Sails Through Senate

Amid an ongoing scandal over how the state awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a private company, the Texas Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would overhaul the state’s contracting processes.

 

 

E-cigarettes vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation. They have grown steadily in popularity since they were introduced in 2005.
E-cigarettes vaporize a liquid solution for inhalation. They have grown steadily in popularity since they were introduced in 2005.

House Committee Considers E-Cigarette Ban for Minors

The House Public Health Committee on Tuesday discussed five bills that would extend current restrictions on tobacco products to vapor products like e-cigarettes. The Senate passed similar legislation last week.

State Rep. John Otto (right) proposes a constitutional amendment to use Rainy Day Fund money to pay off state debt during a news conference on Jan. 15, 2015. At left is state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen.
State Rep. John Otto (right) proposes a constitutional amendment to use Rainy Day Fund money to pay off state debt during a news conference on Jan. 15, 2015. At left is state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen.

$209.8 Billion Budget Plan Headed to House Floor

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday backed a $209.8 billion two-year budget that would leave $8.4 billion on the table, along with billions more in the state’s savings account. The budget will be debated and voted on by the full 150-member House next Tuesday.

Analysis: A Sales Tax Cut, If Anybody Wants It

A little-noticed bill filed on deadline by the chairman of the House's tax-writing committee could hold the session's biggest tax cut, but only if the House and Senate decide to cut taxes on sales instead of property. The Senate has already signaled its preference for a property tax cut, but the debate is just getting started.

House Speaker Joe Straus (left) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
House Speaker Joe Straus (left) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

A Look at the Priority Bills for Straus and Patrick

The House speaker and the lieutenant governor traditionally award the lowest bill numbers to measures they view as priorities. Here's a breakdown of House Bills 1-20 and Senate Bills 1-20, providing a window into where House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are placing their political capital for the 84th legislative session.

Analysis: Making the Worst of a Good Situation

Texas legislators have an unfamiliar problem: They have more money available to spend than their self-imposed limits will allow. And it's enough to start debates even where there is broad agreement — over which taxes to cut, how many people it takes to secure the border and which items on the state's wish list should be first. 

X-Ray Technologist Donna Fehl, prepares to scan a patient on a mobile mammogram machine at a clinic in Port Arthur, Texas, Monday, November 11, 2013.
X-Ray Technologist Donna Fehl, prepares to scan a patient on a mobile mammogram machine at a clinic in Port Arthur, Texas, Monday, November 11, 2013.

In Funding Fight, Cancer Care Could Be Collateral Damage

GOP lawmakers, in their running effort to put Planned Parenthood clinics out of business, are considering changing how funding is distributed through a cancer screening program for poor, uninsured women. But private health clinics unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood say they'd take a huge hit, too.  

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at a budget press conference on Jan. 27, 2015.
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at a budget press conference on Jan. 27, 2015.

Analysis: Fear of Spending Even Extends to Tax Cuts

Lawmakers want to send voters a tax cut but fear spending the money the cut requires without asking voters for permission. Senate leaders are proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow them to ignore caps on spending growth when they are cutting taxes or paying debts.