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The Texas Legislature. Historical Information. Meets every 2 years for 140 days Has come from Democratic, rural control to evenly divided party power with urban control (read, Harris county). Legislative Functions. Enacting laws Budgets and taxes Sets state budget for all branches

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historical information
Historical Information
  • Meets every 2 years for 140 days
  • Has come from Democratic, rural control to evenly divided party power with urban control (read, Harris county)
legislative functions
Legislative Functions
  • Enacting laws
  • Budgets and taxes
    • Sets state budget for all branches
    • Sets taxes
  • Agency oversight
    • Assigns responsibilities
    • Confirms nominees
  • Public education
  • Representing the public
institutionalization
Institutionalization
  • Over the years, institutionalization has affected the legislature through
    • Development of two-party system
    • Interest group changes
    • Increased tenure of members
    • Expanded workload
    • Development of complex rules/procedures
organization and composition
Organization and Composition
  • Bicameral legislature
    • House has 150 members
    • Senate has 31 members
    • Considered to be “professional-citizen” model, with moderate pay, staff, turnover and length of sessions
legislative sessions
Legislative Sessions
  • Regular session
    • Begins on second Tuesday in January and lasts for 140 days
    • Limited time was intended to curb power
  • Special session
    • Can only be called by governor for 30 days
    • Matters which can be considered are only those submitted by governor
    • No limit on number (six in 71st)
  • Probably should have more, but requires Constitutional amendment
terms of office qualifications
Terms of Office/Qualifications
  • House
    • Two-year term
    • Qualified voter
    • 21 years of age, residing in Texas for two years and district for one year
  • Senate
    • Four-year staggered terms
    • Qualified voter
    • 26 years of age, residing in Texas for five years and district for one year
pay and compensation
Pay and Compensation
  • Base pay of $7,200/year (one of lowest)
  • Per diem of $125/day while in session
  • 1989 proposal for $20,000/year was turned down 2 to 1
  • Ethics Commission can recommend pay raise to voters and can set per diem
  • Only one of five states that still has constitutional limits on pay
pay and compensation9
Pay and Compensation
  • California pays $99,000/year, while New Hampshire pays $100/year
  • Argument is that low pay restricts service to wealthy individuals or those whose businesses have others to take up slack while members are in Austin
  • Retirement is excellent, based on a state district judge salary
  • Can get full benefits at age 50
physical facilities
Physical Facilities
  • House chamber is located in west wing of Capitol, and Senate chamber is located in east wing
  • 1990 expansion moved many legislators’ offices to the annex, a four-story underground facility on the north side of the Capitol building
  • Seats are assigned according to seniority
  • Public is admitted to galleries
membership
Membership
  • Historically white, male and Democratic
  • During 70’s, more females and minorities began to be elected (Barbara Jordan, Sissy Farenthold)
  • House presently has 68 Democrats, 82 Republicans
  • Senate has 13 Democrats, 18 Republicans
membership14
Membership
  • Redistricting will resulted in House and Senate Republican majority
  • Law and business are dominant occupations
  • Senate age ranges are from mid-thirties to mid-sixties, with average age of 50
  • House age ranges from mid-twenties to mid-seventies, with average of 47
careers and turnover
Careers and Turnover
  • Majority of senators previously served in the House
  • Many first-termers arrive with little political experience
  • Turnover is comparatively moderate, and is due primarily to low pay and costs of campaigns
  • Relatively few “career legislators,” with average of 9.8 years in Senate and 6.6 years in House
representation redistricting
Representation/Redistricting
  • Seats allocated geographically on single-member district basis
  • State redistricting is done at the first session after the decennial census
  • If Legislature fails, the Legislative Redistricting Board acts (Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner)
representation redistricting17
Representation/Redistricting
  • Court intervention
    • Baker v. Carr established equality to Congressional redistricting (“one man, one vote”)
    • Reynolds v. Sims extended principle to state legislative races
    • Countywide, multi-member districts were ruled unconstitutional in 1972
    • Since 1975, state has been under the provisions of the Voting Rights Act
leadership
Leadership
  • House
    • Speaker is elected from membership
    • Recent history of long tenure
    • Candidate cannot make outright promises, but supporters often end up in key positions on committees
    • Large staffs serve position
    • Total discretion in naming of committee chairs and vice-chairs, as well as procedural committees
    • Recent rule changes have reduced Calendar Committee power
leadership19
Leadership
  • Senate
    • Lt. Governor is chosen statewide by voters to serve four-year term as presiding officer
    • Called most powerful state office because LG can use statewide voter base to dominate the legislative agenda
    • Most power comes from Senate rules
    • LG determines when (or if) a bill comes up for a vote
    • Appoints all members to standing committees
leadership20
Leadership
  • Senate
    • “pro tem” is chosen by members
    • Since LG wields such power, only way to get around is failure to have a quorum (“Killer Bees”)
    • Very often work is done behind closed doors
influence and control
Influence and Control
  • Committee appointments mean influence
  • Neither officer participates in debates
  • Lt. Governor only votes in cases of a tie, while Speaker can vote on any bill (although abstention is normal unless a “message” needs to be sent to the troops)
  • No floor leaders as in Congress, but committee chairs can act as unofficial floor leaders
committees
Committees
  • Backbone of the Legislature
  • Committee chairs exercise great power
  • Most bills introduced don’t make it out of committee. They can be:
    • Gutted
    • Amended so as to not be recognizable
    • Ignored without having a hearing set
    • Sent to a Siberian subcommittee
committees23
Committees
  • Subcommittees can work out compromises, correct technical problems or draft substitutes
  • Standing Committees
    • Senate has 13 and House 37 in most recent session
    • Most are substantive, meaning they hold hearings and evaluate bills
committees24
Committees
  • Standing Committees
    • Procedural committees handle routine matters such as resolutions and schedules
    • Dominant committees
      • House State Affairs
      • House Calendar Committee (sets floor debate and can still kill bills)
      • House Appropriations and Senate Finance
      • Senate State Affairs
committees25
Standing subcommittees exist to handle specific types of bills

Conference committees

Used to reconcile conflicting bills

Made up of five members of each chamber

At least three of each chamber must agree to bill

Special (select) committees are appointed as temporary committee to conduct studies or investigations

Committees
committees26
Committees
  • Interim committees are appointed by Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker to study policy issues during interim
rules and procedures
HOUSE

First Reading

(Introduced, numbered and referred)

Second Reading

(debate, amendment, prelim approval)

Third Reading

(amended with 2/3 vote, final approval)

SENATE

First Reading

(Introduced, numbered and referred)

Second Reading

(debate, amendment, prelim approval)

Third Reading

(amended with 2/3 vote, final approval)

Rules and Procedures
rules and procedures28
Rules and Procedures

BOTH CHAMBERS

Conference Action

(committee appointed and then both houses must approve)

Governor’s Action

(signs, lets pass w/o signing, or vetoes)

rules and procedures29
Rules and Procedures
  • Governor has line-item veto power for appropriations bill, which permits veto of specific spending proposals
  • Governor must accept or reject any other bills in their entirety
  • Comptroller must certify funds for appropriations
  • Tax bills must originate in the House
rules and procedures30
Rules and Procedures
  • Senate has a two-thirds rule, which requires two-thirds of the senators to agree to bring up a bill in lieu of the stopper bill
  • Senator can also tag (48 hr. delay) or filibuster (talk it to death) a bill
  • Lt. Governor has ultimate power to allow a senator to bring up a bill for consideration
rules and procedures31
Rules and Procedures
  • Local and consent calendar allows consideration of many non-controversial bills
  • Record votes can be demanded, but often votes are taken as voice votes. Some lawmakers still vote for their colleagues.
  • Late minute tactics are often used to slip by major changes in law (S.B. 247)
emerging party system
Emerging Party System
  • Democratic majority may well disappear following redistricting
  • For many years, liberal Dems joined with Republicans (“Dirty Thirty”)
  • Partisanship will likely increase
  • Several caucuses (Mexican American, Black) exist to provide influence
legislators
Legislators
  • Very few Texans know their own
  • Most communicate with constituents through newsletters and visits
  • Little coverage from media
decision making
Decision Making
  • Process is institutionalized conflict, with rules and norms in place for civility
  • Personal attacks are rare
  • Decisions are made on:
    • Constituent wishes
    • Information from other legislators
    • Staff recommendations
    • Wishes of party leadership
decision making35
Decision Making
  • Legislative Budget Board and Legislative Council provide information
  • Governor influences through
    • Public attention
    • Indirect communication w/ lawmakers
    • Personal appeals to lawmakers
    • Threats, including veto
styles
Styles
  • Workhorses, who produce good legislation
  • Grandstanders
  • Opportunists
  • Spectators (i.e., furniture)
legislative staff
Legislative Staff
  • Nearly 2,000 staff members, both in Austin and in respective districts
  • Limits do exist on size of House and Senate staffs
ethics reforms
Ethics Reforms
  • Sharpstown scandal in 1971-72 produced sweeping changes
  • Lobbyists now must register with Secretary of State and report expenditures and income
  • State officials must file reports detailing sources of income
  • Ethics Commission handles these matters