Difference between revisions of "Texas State Senate"

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(List of current members)
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Revision as of 16:24, 15 May 2013

Texas State Senate

Seal of Texas.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 8, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   David Dewhurst, (R)
Members:  31
   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 6, 2012 (31 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Texas Legislature has control
The Texas Senate is the upper house in the Texas State Legislature. It consists of 31 members. According to the Texas Constitution, Texas senators serve four-year terms without term limits.

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.[1] Texas state senators are not subject to term limits. Each member represents an average of 811,147 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[2] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 672,640 residents.[3]

As of May 2013, Texas is one of 24 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 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 8 through May 27.

Major issues

Along with the necessity of creating a new budget, some of the biggest issues are expected to be medicaid and school funding, a water shortage, and reforming the school finance system.[4] They are also expected to debate a bill that would have the Legislature meet every year, as opposed to only every other year, as it currently does.[5]


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 will be in session from January 11 through May 30. [6]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate did not meet in regular session.[7]

2009 (81st Legislature)

In 2009, the Senate met in session from January 13 through June 1. [8]



See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Texas State Senate consisted of a Primary Election on March 6, 2012 and a General Election on November 6, 2012. All 31 Senate seats were up for election in 2012.

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Texas State Senate was 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: [9]


To be eligible to serve in the Texas State Senate, a candidate must be:[10]

  • 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


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the Governor must call a special election to fill the vacant seat[11]. 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[12].

The Secretary of State can declare a candidate duly elected in a special election if there is no opposition[13].


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

2010 census

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.[14]

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.[15]


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, of which Rep. Tom Craddick (R) will be the first to qualify for when he retires. [16]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Texas legislators assume office at the beginning of the legislative session (January). Special elections will be different and subject to case-by-case basis.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 20
Total 31

82nd Legislature

The following map displays party control of districts throughout the Texas State Senate after the 2010 general elections: Texas Senate Districts by Party 2010.jpg

81st Legislature

The following map displays party control of districts throughout the Texas State Senate:

Texas Senate Districts by Party 2010.jpg


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.[17]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Texas State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate David Dewhurst Ends.png Republican
State Senate President Pro Tempore Leticia Van de Putte Electiondot.png Democratic

List of current members

Current members, Texas State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Kevin Eltife Ends.png Republican 2004
2 Bob Deuell Ends.png Republican 2003
3 Robert Nichols Ends.png Republican 2007
4 Tommy Williams Ends.png Republican 2003
5 Charles Schwertner Ends.png Republican 2013
6 Sylvia Garcia Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
7 Dan Patrick Ends.png Republican 2007
8 Ken Paxton Ends.png Republican 2013
9 Kelly Hancock Ends.png Republican 2013
10 Wendy Davis Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
11 Larry Taylor Ends.png Republican 2013
12 Jane Nelson Ends.png Republican 1993
13 Rodney Ellis Electiondot.png Democratic 1990
14 Kirk Watson Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
15 John Whitmire Electiondot.png Democratic 1983
16 John Carona Ends.png Republican 1996
17 Joan Huffman Ends.png Republican 2008
18 Glenn Hegar Ends.png Republican 2007
19 Carlos Uresti Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
20 Juan Hinojosa Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
21 Judith Zaffirini Electiondot.png Democratic 1987
22 Brian Birdwell Ends.png Republican 2011
23 Royce West Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
24 Troy Fraser Ends.png Republican 1997
25 Donna Campbell Ends.png Republican 2013
26 Leticia Van de Putte Electiondot.png Democratic 1999
27 Eddie Lucio Electiondot.png Democratic 1991
28 Robert Duncan Ends.png Republican 1997
29 Jose R. Rodriguez Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
30 Craig Estes Ends.png Republican 2001
31 Kel Seliger Ends.png Republican 2004

Senate committees

Texas State Senate
Seal of Texas.svg.png
Senate Committees

Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs
Business & CommerceCriminal Justice
Health & Human ServicesHigher Education
Intergovernmental Relations
Natural Resources and Economic Development
NominationsState Affairs
Veteran Affairs & Military Installations

House Committees

The Texas State Senate has 18 standing committees, 3 subcommittees, and 2 select committees. The following is a list of the standing committees:



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[18] 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.[19]

External links

Portions of this article have been taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice can be found here.