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.

Images

The 17th Annual African American Heritage Festival on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX on Feb. 27, 2016.
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes staff and interns at the close of the 2011 legislative session. Left to right: Edward Pollard, Texas Legislative Internship Program; Jennifer Berberich, University of Texas - Austin student; Jessica Kemp, Legislative Director; Pam Parker, Special Project Coordinator; Pamela McPeters, Chief-of-Staff; Rep. Dawnna Dukes; Juan Garcia, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Internship Program; Stephanie Lebleu, University of Texas - Austin
Social Work Program; Czara Venegas, University of Texas - San Antonio McClendon Scholar; Thais De Macedo, Texas A&M University Internship Program; Esteban Desantiago, University of Texas - Austin student volunteer
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. State Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco (l.) and conservative commentator Glenn Beck. Molly White, state Rep.-elect for HD-55 in Central Texas, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 20, 2014. Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Nov. 16, 2014. State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio signing letter resigning from state House to run for mayor of San Antonio. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Nov. 2, 2014. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Oct. 26, 2014. Republican Konni Burton (l) defeated Democrat Libby Willis for the SD-10 Senate seat vacated by Wendy Davis. Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Sept. 21, 2014. Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte, the Republican and Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, spoke at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.

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