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The Texas Legislature. Lieutenant governor Special Session Bipartisan Committees (standing, procedural, joint, rules, calendar) Party Caucus. First Reading Second Reading Conference committee Line Item Veto biennial. Key Terms. The Texas Legislature

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Presentation Transcript
key terms
Lieutenant governor

Special Session


Committees (standing, procedural, joint, rules, calendar)

Party Caucus

First Reading

Second Reading

Conference committee

Line Item Veto


Key Terms

The Texas Legislature

On paper, the Texas legislature looks much like the U.S. Congress

  A. Two chambers: Senate and House

B. Senate: 31 members elected for 4-year terms.

C. House: 150 members elected for 2-year terms.

D. Pay is $7,200 a year plus a per diem while on state business.

. The Senate is given the power to confirm the Governor’s appointments.

. All revenue bills start in the House.

II. Membership — Chart

III. Sessions.

A. 140 days every other year. 43 states have annual sessions.

  B. Special sessions may be called by Governor

  C. Special sessions are for 30 days — Governor sets the agenda

  D. Governor can call as many as she/he wishes.

IV. Leadership

A. The Senate president is the Lieutenant Governor, elected statewide.

B. The House leader is the Speaker, elected by the majority party in the House.

V. Leadership Power

A. More powerful that the leadership in Congress

B. Leadership decides the committee structure, who will serve on each committee, and who will be chair.

C. Bipartisan process; leadership normally will select some chairs from the opposition party.

  • Leaders

Lieutenant Governor


  • Committees
  • Types of committees






  • Power and Influence

Legislative Party Caucus

  • Leadership – the House

Texas Constitution requires that legislature elect one of their members to be head of House called the “Speaker”

  • Leadership - the Senate

Constitution calls for lieutenant governor to be leader of the Senate

Lieutenant governor in Texas is a very powerful position

VII. How a bill becomes a law

 A. Much like the U.S. Congress

B. Introduced in both chambers (called a First Reading)

C. Sent to a committee; may never emerge.

D. If passed out of committee, in House it must be endorsed and scheduled for debate by Calendar Committee (functions much like Rules Committee)

E. Debated and voted upon (called Second Reading)

F. Tradition of open and spirited debate

G. Voted on again (called Third Reading); usually just a formal process.

H. May have to go to Conference Committee

I. If passed by both chambers, goes to the Governor.

VIII. Senate has a 2/3s rule for the passage of any legislation.

IX. Members of the legislature can generally get a bill passed only by finding other members to co-sponsor their legislation.

First question they are asked by other members is “who hates this bill?”

Member must convince them that supporting the bill will not cause them problem with constituents or powerful interest groups.

May take a member several sessions to gain enough support to get a bill passed.

lawmaking budgeting in the texas legislature
Lawmaking & Budgeting in the Texas Legislature
  • Budgeting process
  • Texas has biennial budget
  • Role of the Governor and Legislative Budgeting Board
  • (Interim budgeting authority)
  • Balanced budget requirement
  • Budgeting process includes: consideration of balanced budget requirement, comptrollers revenues estimates, proposed budget by governor and the LBB, spending limits, and governor’s line item veto authority
the legislature the governor
The Legislature & the Governor
  • In Texas governors may be weak in terms of executive branch control but strong players in the legislative process
  • The Governor and special sessions
  • Governor’s veto power over legislation

In Texas the governor’ s veto is rarely overridden, in part, because most vetoes take place after the session ends.

  • The Texas legislature is set up much like the US congress with a couple of important exceptions: it only meets every other year and the Lieutenant Governor acts as the president of the Senate.
  • There is a complicated system of committees that a bill must maneuver in order to become law
  • The state budgeting process is much less like the national process because of role of the Legislative Budgeting Board and the balanced budget requirement.
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a legislature that only meets every other year? Why would the writers of the Texas constitution set up the system in such a way?
  • How (if at all) does a balanced budget requirement affect policy?
discussion questions1
Discussion Questions
  • On paper, the Texas Legislature looks much like the US congress, but one important difference is the role the Lieutenant Governor who acts as the president of the senate. How does the role of a separately elected Lieutenant Governor change the policy making process from the federal to the state level?