Texas State Senate
|Texas State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 13, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||David Dewhurst (R)|
Democratic Party (11)
Republican Party (20)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art III, Sec 1-43, Texas Constitution|
|Salary:||$7,200/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (15 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016|
|Redistricting:||Texas Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
One-half of the Senate membership is elected every two years in even-numbered years, with the exception that all 31 Senate seats are up for election for the first legislature following the decennial census in order to reflect the newly redrawn districts. After the initial election, the Senate is divided by lot into two classes, with one class having a re-election after two years and the other having a re-election after four years. Texas state senators are not subject to term limits. Each member represents an average of 811,147 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 672,640 residents.
As of April 2015, Texas is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
Article III of the Texas Constitution establishes when the Texas State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 5 of Article III states that the Legislature shall meet every two years at times to be established by law. Section 5 goes on to say that the Legislature can also be convened by the Governor of Texas.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature will be in session from January 13 through June 1.
The number one issue on the agenda for the Texas State Legislature will likely be transportation funding, especially funding of the Texas Department of Transportation. A bill meant to help alleviate funding issues within the agency died in the last legislative session, leaving the issue to the 2015 legislative session. Officials from the agency have told lawmakers they need an additional $4 billion a year to maintain the state's current traffic levels.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature will not hold a regular session.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through May 27. Thirty minutes after the regular session ended, Governor Rick Perry called legislators back for a special session starting that evening.
Along with the necessity of creating a new budget, some of the biggest issues included medicaid and school funding, a water shortage, and reforming the school finance system.
Wallace Hall impeachment
- See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial
After he was appointed in 2011, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program and admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals. Hall, as an individual citizen, filed FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed. According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden. However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages. In addition, Cigarroa wrote: "During testimony before the Select Committee, some early witnesses implied that the U.T. System has not protected the privacy rights of students, staff, and patients. This is simply not true."
An effort was begun in June 2013 by members of the Texas State House to try and impeach Hall from his position as Regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment on the grounds that Hall did not disclose several lawsuits that he was involved in when he originally completed his Regent background check. Hall updated Governor Rick Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list. The lack of lawsuit disclosure by Hall is not unique -- more than 9,000 lawsuits were not disclosed by other appointed Texas officials. No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office. Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees. He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater." Texas state legislators have never previously tried to remove an appointed official. Only two elected officials in the history of Texas have ever been successfully impeached. Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus authorized the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations to investigate the possibility of drafting articles of impeachment.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was not in regular session.
2011 (82nd Legislature)
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 11 through May 30.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
2009 (81st Legislature)
In 2009, the Senate met in session from January 13 through June 1.
Role in state budget
- See also: Texas state budget and finances
- Budget instructions are sent to state agencies beginning in March.
- Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor from July through September.
- Agency and public hearings are held from July through September.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature on the 30th day of the regular session.
- The legislature typically adopts a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins in September.
The legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget. Similarly, the governor must sign a balanced budget into law.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Texas was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Texas received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 91, indicating that Texas was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Texas was given a grade of A in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for 15 of the 31 seats in the Texas State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on March 4, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was December 9, 2013.
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2012
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Texas State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 10||Wendy Davis||2.2%||287,759||Mark Shelton|
|District 19||Carlos Uresti||18.8%||205,736||Michael Berlanga|
|District 9||Kelly Hancock||20.1%||233,577||Pete Martinez|
|District 20||Juan Hinojosa||23.1%||183,038||Raul Torres|
|District 15||John Whitmire||24.7%||217,860||Bill Walker|
|District 8||Ken Paxton||27.7%||286,147||Jack Ternan|
|District 25||Donna Campbell||31.2%||354,167||John Courage|
|District 11||Larry Taylor||32%||274,333||Jacqueline Acquistapace|
|District 7||Dan Patrick||36.8%||287,319||Sam Texas|
|District 29||Jose Rodriguez||37.2%||169,398||Dan Chavez|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate were held on November 2, 2010 in 16 of Texas's 31 senate districts. The 16 districts where electoral contests took place in 2010 were: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, 25, and 29. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was January 4, 2010, the primary Election Day was on March 2, and the primary runoff was held April 13.
In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $11,219,972 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Perry, Bob J||$544,500|
|Texas Association of Realtors||$426,548|
|Texas Medical Association||$255,741|
|Texans for Lawsuit Reform||$218,466|
|Independent Insurance Agents of Texas||$207,232|
|Associated General Contractors of Texas||$180,408|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a primary election on March 4, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $25,929,067. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Texas Association Of Realtors||$494,383|
|Perry, Bob J||$430,500|
|Texans For Lawsuit Reform||$389,416|
|Texas Medical Association||$280,295|
|Butt, Charles C||$262,655|
|Associated General Contractors Of Texas||$200,253|
|Texans For Economic Development||$190,000|
|Texas Democratic Party||$186,742|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a primary election on March 7, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $28,516,289. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Texans For Lawsuit Reform||$1,041,735|
|Perry, Bob J||$597,000|
|Texas Association of Mortgage Attorneys||$430,000|
|Texas Association of Realtors||$424,530|
|Williams Bailey Law Firm||$385,000|
|Texas Medical Association||$342,382|
|BG Distribution Partners||$336,000|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a primary election on March 9, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $16,529,122. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Seliger, Kel & Nancy||$325,000|
|Texas Medical Association||$271,481|
|Texas Association Of Mortgage Attorneys PAC||$227,500|
|Texas Association of Realtors||$210,366|
|Texas Trial Lawyers Association||$200,848|
|Friends of Frank Madla||$190,000|
|Williams Bailey Law Firm||$164,500|
|Texas Optometric Association||$158,000|
|Perry, Bob J||$153,000|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a primary election on March 12, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $23,504,855. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Texans For Lawsuit Reform||$643,807|
|Texas Association Of Realtors||$447,133|
|Perry, Bob J||$401,000|
|Texas Medical Association||$394,077|
|Madla, Friends Of Frank||$345,400|
|Hinojosa, Juan (Chuy)||$286,371|
|Texas Dental Association||$280,500|
|Texas Trial Lawyers Association||$260,659|
|Estes, Craig L||$249,000|
- See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a primary election on March 14, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $15,399,907. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Texas State Senate|
|Texans For Lawsuit Reform||$945,659|
|Texas Democratic Party||$607,826|
|Texas Republican Party||$443,296|
|Associated Republicans Of Texas||$384,399|
|Texas Association Of Realtors||$338,895|
|Perry, Bob J||$206,000|
|Democratic Legislative Campaign Cmte||$197,500|
|Texas Medical Association||$164,717|
|Texas Trial Lawyers Association||$157,503|
|Texas Dental Association||$136,500|
To be eligible to serve in the Texas State Senate, a candidate must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- 26 years old before the general election
- A five-year resident of Texas before the general election
- A district resident for 1 year prior to the general election
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the senate, the Governor must call a special election to fill the vacant seat. A Governor's proclamation to a special election must be delivered to local elections authorities representing the vacant seat no later than 36 days before the scheduled election.
- See also: Redistricting in Texas
Legislative redistricting in Texas is handled by the Legislature. Maps are passed as regular legislature, but if the Legislature fails, a constitutionally-prescribed Legislative Redistricting Board -- made up of the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, land commissioner, comptroller, and Attorney General -- is formed to finish the job. The board must meet within 90 days of the Legislature's failure, and pass a plan within 60 days of the first meeting. Texas is a Voting Rights Act state, meaning it must submit its maps to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Texas received its local census data on February 17, 2011. The state grew 20.6%, with Hispanics making up at least 2/3 of that growth. As far as the large cities, Houston grew by 7.5 percent, San Antonio grew by 16.0 percent, Dallas grew by 0.8 percent, Austin grew by 20.4 percent, and Fort Worth grew by 38.6 percent. However, Harris County -- of which Houston is the seat -- grew by 20%, suggesting suburban growth.
In 2012, Texas was holding elections under interim maps drawn by a federal court after the Legislature's passed maps were thrown out by a panel of three federal judges on Voting Rights Act grounds. The panel drew up its own maps, but the federal court struck down those as well, substituting its own so that the elections could proceed.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Texas Legislature are paid $7,200/year. Legislators receive $150/day per diem which is set by the Ethics Commission.
When calculating a legislators' pension, their normal salary is artificially inflated to $125,000. This goes back to 1981, when lawmakers linked their salaries to those of state judges. Since then, they raised judges' salaries while removing the caps on their own pensions, pushing the maximum benefit up to 100% of a judge's salary.
In 2011, this resulted in an average state employee pension of $17,526 annually. The maximum pension a legislator can earn is $125,000. Representative Tom Craddick (R) will be the first to qualify for that maximum pension amount when he retires.
When sworn in
Texas legislators assume office at the beginning of the legislative session (January).
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of April 2015|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Texas State Senate from 1992-2013.
The following map displays party control of districts throughout the Texas State Senate after the 2010 general elections:
The following map displays party control of districts throughout the Texas State Senate:
Similar to many states, the Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate, but in Texas this position can be given a great deal of power. The Senate adopt the rules at the beginning of each legislative session which sets out how much power the President of the Senate will have.
Under current rules, the Lieutenant Governor decides all parliamentary questions, sets up standing and special committees and can appoint committee chairs along with individual members. The Lieutenant Governor also sets the order in which bills are considered and is given a strong leadership role.
|Current Leadership, Texas State Senate|
|President of the Senate||David Dewhurst||Republican|
|State Senate President Pro Tempore||Juan Hinojosa||Democratic|
List of current members
The Texas State Senate has 14 standing committees, 1 subcommittee and 1 select committee. The following is a list of the standing committees:
- Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs
- Business & Commerce
- Criminal Justice
- Health & Human Services
- Higher Education
- Intergovernmental Relations
- Natural Resources and Economic Development
- State Affairs
- Veteran Affairs & Military Installations
There have been 3 cases of quorum-busting in Texas Senate history so far. The first one took place in 1870, with the Rump Senate. Then came the Killer Bees in 1979, and the Texas Eleven. The Texas Eleven were a group of Democrats that left the state in 2003 to prevent redistricting legislation, following the example of the Texas House Killer Ds.
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Texas State Senate for five years while the Republicans were the majority for 17 years. Texas was under Republican trifectas for the final 11 years of the study.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
Texas was one of eight states to demonstrate a dramatic partisan shift in the 22 years studied. A dramatic shift was defined by a movement of 40 percent or more toward one party over the course of the study period. Texas started out with Democratic trifectas but shifted to Republican trifectas by the end of the study.
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Texas state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Prior to Republican trifectas, which started in 2003, the SQLI rating for Texas stayed consistently in the 30s, except for its lowest ranking of 40 in 1994 during a Democratic trifecta. Within a few years of the Republican trifectas that ranking moved up, and Texas finished 11th, its highest ranking, in 2012.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 36.67
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 18.00
- SQLI average with divided government: 33.63
- Texas House of Representatives
- Texas State Legislature
- Texas state legislative districts
- State legislative scorecards in Texas
- Governor of Texas
- Texas Constitution
- Texas State Legislature, "Texas Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Article 3, Section 3)
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- Aman Batheja, Texas Tribune, "Transportation Funding Likely to Be Big Issue in 2015" accessed January 29, 2015
- kten.com, "Texas Lawmakers To Tackle Redistricting In Special Session," May 29, 2013
- Star-Telegram, "As lawmakers return to Austin this week, a heap of work awaits," January 6, 2013
- Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
- Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
- Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
- Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
- Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
- Watchdog.org, "Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof," September 6, 2013
- News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
- Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
- Texas Public Radio, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
- Texas State House Committees, "Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee Members," accessed October 31, 2013
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
- National Conferences of State Legislatures, "2010 session dates for Texas legislature," December 8, 2010
- National Conferences of State Legislatures, "2009 Legislative Sessions Calendar," March 11, 2010
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas 2008 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas 2006 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas 2004 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas 2002 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Texas 2000 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
- Texas Secretary of State, "Qualifications for office," accessed December 18, 2013
- Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3))
- Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3)(b)-(c))
- Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 2.055 (3)(b)-(c))
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Texas' 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," February 17, 2011
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- USA Today, "State lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," September 23, 2011
- Lieutenant Governor in Texas, "Duties of the Lt. Gov. of Texas," accessed August 2, 2014
- The Killer Bees were a group of 12 Senators who hid out in Austin in 1979 to keep the Senate from reaching a quorum.
- Legislative Reference Library, "Home page," accessed August 2, 2014
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