Tribpedia: Texas House of Representatives

The Texas House of Representatives is one arm of the the Texas Legislature, the other being the Texas Senate. It is considered the "lower" chamber, with 150 members who represent districts of 150,000 people each. The primary legislative power is enacting laws, and the most visible function of the Legislature is to make public policy through drafting, considering and passing bills and resolutions.

The House meets biennially for 140-day sessions and in special sessions when called by the governor. Members are elected in even-numbered years for two-year terms. (See Texas Legislature topic page for qualifications to run for the House.)

Executive powers of each house include selection of legislative officers, employees and chairs and members of committees. Investigative powers are exercised through the formation of standing, special, interim and joint committees to study an issue. House committees are usually charged with a particular purpose by the speaker, although this may also be accomplished by a resolution adopted by the House. Each legislative house holds judicial powers over its members, including punishing or expelling members for cause.

The House speaker is elected biennially at the beginning of each legislative session by the 150 members of the House. It is a powerful position because the speaker appoints customarily appoints standing, special and conference committees, although the House is free to designate its own method of selection.

All legislative sessions, except for the Senate's executive session, are open. Neither house may, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days or move to a place other than where the Legislature is sitting. Two-thirds of each house constitutes a quorum, the number of members required to conduct business. If a quorum is not present, a smaller number may vote to adjourn and compel absent members to attend. The House is required to keep and publish a journal of its proceedings and to record the vote on any question on which three members who are present demand an actual count of yeas and nays.

The House maintains more standing committees than the Senate. As of 2009, the House had 34 standing committees:

  • Agriculture and Livestock
  • Appropriations
  • Border and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Business and Industry
  • Calendars
  • Corrections
  • County Affairs
  • Criminal Jurisprudence
  • Culture, Recreation and Tourism
  • Defense and Veterans' Affairs
  • Elections
  • Energy Resources
  • Environmental Regulation
  • General Investigating and Ethics
  • Higher Education
  • House Administration
  • Human Services
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
  • Land and Resource Management
  • Licensing and Administrative Procedures
  • Local and Consent Calendars
  • Natural Resources
  • Pensions, Investments and Financial Services
  • Public Education
  • Public Health
  • Public Safety
  • Redistricting
  • Rules and Resolutions
  • State Affairs
  • Technology, Economic Development and Workforce
  • Transportation
  • Urban Affairs
  • Ways and Means

Sources include the Texas House of Representatives Committees' Web page:


With less than a week before lawmakers convene, preparations are underway to welcome members of the state House of Representatives for the 85th session of the Texas Legislature.
Houston attorney Shawn Thierry has been nominated to replace Borris Miles in state House District 146.
Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes is honored at the unveiling of the African American Portrait Project at the African American Cultural and heritage Facility in Austin, Texas. June 9, 2014. 12:00 a.m. — State Rep. John Zerwas, MD, R-Richmond, reacts as the final bill passes before a midnight deadline. 10:09 p.m. — State Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, listens to late night debate. 7:40 p.m. — State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, talks to a colleague. 10:22 p.m. —  State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Fort Worth, center, and others listen as legislation is debated. 9:20 p.m. — House sergeant-at-arms Kimberly Nemecek watches a House staffer clean up in the back hall after state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, hosted a barbecue dinner for legislators. Students take the Pledge of Allegiance as protesters shout on Jan. 29, 2015. Over shouts of protesters, school kids led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance during Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Jan. 29, 2015. Protesters at Muslim Day at the Capitol on Jan. 29, 2015. A group of school children look on at the Texas Muslim Capitol Day ceremony. Almost forgotten in the midst of Texas Muslim Capitol Day, an open carry advocate displays his gun and the Israeli flag on Jan. 29, 2015. A small but vocal group of protesters look on as Texas Muslim Capitol Day ceremonies get underway on Jan. 29, 2015. A group of students gather by the south entrance of the Capitol on Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Jan. 29, 2015. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Dec. 11, 2015. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics on Jan. 4, 2015. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Sept. 21, 2014. Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, shown here with the Washington Redskins, played professional football from 1995-2004. State Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, speaking at the RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas on August 8, 2014. State Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, spoke at the RedState Gathering in Fort Worth on Aug. 8, 2014. House candidate, Jacqueline Baly Chaumette State Rep. Rick Perry with Railroad Commissioner John Sharp (D) on the floor of the House during the 70th Legislative session, May 20, 1987. State Rep. Robert Earley (D-Portland) and Rep. Rick Perry on the floor of the House during the 69th Legislative session, May 15, 1985. State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, listens to a personal privilege speech at his House desk as the legislature wraps up the business of the 82nd Legislative Session on June 29, 2011. House Speaker Joe Straus (l), R-San Antonio, adjourns the House of Representatives sine die on June 29, 2011. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, gets a hug from State Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Garland,  as the House works on its final day of the special session on June 29, 2011. Senate messenger Austin Osborn takes a ribbing from House members after delivering bills from an aleready adjourned Senate on June 29, 2011. The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011. State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, in the House on June 27, 2011. The Texas House adjourned until Friday morning after meeting for about a half-hour on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. Rep. Lois Kolkhorst R-Brenham during HB5 debate on House floor June 15th, 2011 The chamber of the Texas House State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, leaving the Senate chamber with colleagues Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, after a press conference on May 30, 2011. State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, with a copy of the Texas House Practice rule book as he listens to debate on SB1811, the fiscal matters bill, on May 29, 2011. State Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake,  debates from the back microphone in the Texas House on May 13, 2011. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, pauses while speaking for his amendment to the "sanctuary cities" bill on the House floor May 10. His amendment failed and the bill, which he opposed, passed. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, speaks in favor of his amendment to the "sanctuary cities" bill on the House floor on May 10. His amendment failed and the bill, which he opposed, passed. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, holds the House rule book while speaking to reporters on May 9, 2011. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, expresses his frustration on partisan battles gripping the House on May 9, 2011. State Rep. Bill Zedler (l), R-Arlington, talks with State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, during motions to instruct HB1 conferees debate on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Will Hartnett (r), R-Dallas, listens to a question from the back mike as State Rep. Rene' Oliveira (l), D-Brownsville, waits on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, votes 'aye' to table certain instructions to conferees on HB1 budget bill on May 6, 2011. Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, gets silly with page markers while amusing a youngster on the House floor (not shown) during local and consent calendar readings on May 5, 2011. Legislators review redistricting maps on the House floor. Rep. Senfronia Thompson (r), D-Houston, talks to Rep. Mike Hamilton during the local and consent calendar on April 26, 2011. House Parliamentarian, Chris Griesel hands paperwork to Rep. Ryan Guillen D-Rio Grande City during the budget debate on house floor April 1st, 2011 Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, speaks with Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, on the House floor during the budget debate. Supporters of expanded gambling laws gather at Texas Capitol on March 31st, 2011 Rep. Peter Gallego D-Alpine reviews the Texas House Practice book with Rep. Armando Walle D-Houston while discussing HB 14 regarding Voter ID on March 23rd, 2011 Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel speaks with state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, during a debate about a proposed voter identification bill. Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) listens to House Speaker Joe Straus (r) on March 2, 2011 Rep. John Zerwas, M.D. (R-Simonton) talks with a colleague about the sonogram bill HB15 on March 2, 2011. Author of HB15 Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) debates the sonogram bill on March 2, 2011 Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) holds a sonogram device on the House floor during debate on HB15 March 2, 2011 House Speaker Joe Straus talks to members prior to a debate on HB15 the sonogram bill on March 2, 2011 Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) works the floor prior to debate on HB15 on March 2, 2011 Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) speaks at the TribLive event on February 28, 2011 Copy of Texas Election Law binder on desk before election contest hearing for House District 48 Dan Neil at table with attorneys during a public hearing for the election contest of House D-48 Box with paperwork for public hearing for the election contest of House District 48. Contested by Republican Dan Neil. Donna Howard has said to have won by 12 votes State Rep. Donna Howard arrives at election contest hearing for the election contest of the House District 48 Texas State Representative John Zerwas M.D District 28 Republican Texas State Representative John Zerwas M.D District 28 Republican State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton Texas State Rep. John Zerwas M.D District 28 Rep. Stefani Carter (R-Dallas) at last December's House freshmen orientation session after winning the election for House District 102 in Dallas.  State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, on the House floor January 2011. House members swear in. Swearing in on the House floor, 2011. A look at camera row on the house side The Texas House floor on session opening day 2011 Members of the freshmen class of 2011 at their new member orientation in December 2010. House and Senate bills filed from 11/8-1/4. Newly-elected state Rep. David Simpson at the head of the line to prefile bills on Nov. 8, 2010. Texas House Districts 2011 These freshmen state lawmakers are battling to hang onto their seats this fall. State Rep. Donna Howard,  D-Austin,  and her GOP challenger, Dan Neil. Former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, on the Texas House floor in 2007 14th Court of Appeals Justice Bill Boyce testifies at 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 State Rep. Tara Rios-Ybarra, in Austin on April 28, 2010. State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler The 2010 Runoff Elections Limberg, a Democratic candidate for the Texas House from Irving. Denise Davis, pictured in 2007 U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol State Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas State Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano Photo Texas Legislature House Floor Perry shakes hands after a speech in the Texas House.

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