Difference between revisions of "Texas State Senate"

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{{Chambers infobox
{{Txelecbanner14}}{{Chambers infobox
|Partisan = Republican
|Partisan = Republican
|Chamber = Texas State Senate
|Chamber = Texas State Senate

Revision as of 16:44, 25 August 2014

Texas State Senate

Seal of Texas.svg.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   No regular session
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   David Dewhurst (R)
Members:  31
   Vacant (2)
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 2015, Texas is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Texas State Legislature, Texas House of Representatives, Texas Governor


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 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.[4]

Major issues

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.[5]

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 a large number of FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[6] According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[7][8] However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages.[9][10] 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."[11]

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.[12][13] The lack of lawsuit disclosure by Hall is not unique -- more than 9,000 lawsuits were not disclosed by other appointed Texas officials.[14] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[15] Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[16] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[17] 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.[18] Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus authorized the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations to investigate the possibility of drafting articles of impeachment.[19]


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.[20]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate did not meet in regular session.[21]

2009 (81st Legislature)

In 2009, the Senate met in session from January 13 through June 1.[22]

Role in state budget

See also: Texas state budget

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[23][24]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies beginning in March.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor from July through September.
  3. Agency and public hearings are held from July through September.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature on the 30th day of the regular session.
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins in September.

Texas is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[24]

The legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget. Similarly, the governor must sign a balanced budget into law.[24]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

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.[25]

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.[26] 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.[26]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

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.[27]



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

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 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:[28]


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:[29]


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:[30]


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:[31]


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:[32]


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:[33]


To be eligible to serve in the Texas State Senate, a candidate must be:[34]

  • 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.[35] 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.[36]

The Secretary of State can declare a candidate duly elected in a special election if there is no opposition.[37]


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.[38]

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.[39]


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.[40]

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).

Partisan composition

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

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Texas State Senate from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of the Texas State Senate.PNG

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.[41]

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
District 1 Kevin Eltife Ends.png Republican 2004
District 2 Bob Deuell Ends.png Republican 2003
District 3 Robert Nichols Ends.png Republican 2007
District 4 Vacant
District 5 Charles Schwertner Ends.png Republican 2013
District 6 Sylvia Garcia Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
District 7 Dan Patrick Ends.png Republican 2007
District 8 Ken Paxton Ends.png Republican 2013
District 9 Kelly Hancock Ends.png Republican 2013
District 10 Wendy Davis Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
District 11 Larry Taylor Ends.png Republican 2013
District 12 Jane Nelson Ends.png Republican 1993
District 13 Rodney Ellis Electiondot.png Democratic 1990
District 14 Kirk Watson Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
District 15 John Whitmire Electiondot.png Democratic 1983
District 16 John Carona Ends.png Republican 1996
District 17 Joan Huffman Ends.png Republican 2008
District 18 Glenn Hegar Ends.png Republican 2007
District 19 Carlos Uresti Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
District 20 Juan Hinojosa Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
District 21 Judith Zaffirini Electiondot.png Democratic 1987
District 22 Brian Birdwell Ends.png Republican 2011
District 23 Royce West Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
District 24 Troy Fraser Ends.png Republican 1997
District 25 Donna Campbell Ends.png Republican 2013
District 26 Leticia Van de Putte Electiondot.png Democratic 1999
District 27 Eddie Lucio Electiondot.png Democratic 1991
District 28 Vacant
District 29 Jose R. Rodriguez Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
District 30 Craig Estes Ends.png Republican 2001
District 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[42] 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.[43]

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Texas
Partisan breakdown of the Texas legislature from 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.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Texas, the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Texas state government(1992-2013).PNG

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
Chart displaying the partisanship of Texas government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

External links

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


  1. Texas State Legislature, "Texas Constitution," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Article 3, Section 3)
  2. census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  4. kten.com, "Texas Lawmakers To Tackle Redistricting In Special Session," May 29, 2013
  5. Star-Telegram, "As lawmakers return to Austin this week, a heap of work awaits," January 6, 2013
  6. Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  7. Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  8. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  9. Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
  10. Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
  11. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
  12. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  13. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  14. Watchdog.org, "Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof," September 6, 2013
  15. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  16. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  17. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  18. Texas Public Radio, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
  19. Texas State House Committees, "Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee Members," accessed October 31, 2013
  20. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  21. National Conferences of State Legislatures, "2010 session dates for Texas legislature," December 8, 2010
  22. National Conferences of State Legislatures, "2009 Legislative Sessions Calendar," March 11, 2010
  23. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  25. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  27. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  28. Follow the Money, "Texas Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed August 2, 2013
  29. Follow the Money, "Texas 2008 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  30. Follow the Money, "Texas 2006 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  31. Follow the Money, "Texas 2004 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  32. Follow the Money, "Texas 2002 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  33. Follow the Money, "Texas 2000 Candidates," accessed August 2, 2013
  34. Texas Secretary of State, "Qualifications for office," accessed December 18, 2013
  35. Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3))
  36. Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3)(b)-(c))
  37. Texas Legislature, "Texas Election Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 2.055 (3)(b)-(c))
  38. 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
  39. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  40. USA Today, "State lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't," September 23, 2011
  41. Lieutenant Governor in Texas, "Duties of the Lt. Gov. of Texas," accessed August 2, 2014
  42. The Killer Bees were a group of 12 Senators who hid out in Austin in 1979 to keep the Senate from reaching a quorum.
  43. Legislative Reference Library, "Home page," accessed August 2, 2014