Texas State Senate
|Texas State Senate|
|2014 session start:||January 8, 2013|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||David Dewhurst, (R)|
| Democratic Party (
|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|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 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 July 2014, 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 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.
- 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. 
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
2009 (81st Legislature)
In 2009, the Senate met in session from January 13 through June 1. 
Ethics and transparency
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 is 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, 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 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: 
|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|
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, of which Rep. Tom Craddick (R) will be the first to qualify for when he retires. 
When sworn in
Texas legislators assume office at the beginning of the legislative session (January). Special elections will be different and subject to case-by-case basis.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of July 2014|
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||Leticia Van de Putte||Democratic|
List of current members
The Texas State Senate has 18 standing committees, 3 subcommittees, and 2 select committees. The following is a list of the standing committees:
- Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security
- Business & Commerce
- Criminal Justice
- Economic Development
- Government Organization
- Health & Human Services
- Higher Education
- Intergovernmental Relations
- Natural Resources
- 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 have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
- Texas Constitution, Article 3, Section 3
- Population in 2010 of the American states
- Population in 2000 of the American states
- 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
- 2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- 2010 session dates for Texas legislature
- 2009 Legislative Sessions Calendar, NCSL
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "Texas Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Qualifications for running for Texas Senate
- Texas Legislature "Texas Election Code"(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3))
- Texas Legislature "Texas Election Code"(Referenced Statute 3.003 (3)(b)-(c))
- Texas Legislature "Texas Election Code"(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. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- 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
- Duties of the Lt. Gov. of Texas
- The Killer Bees were a group of 12 Senators who hid out in Austin in 1979 to keep the Senate from reaching a quorum.
- History of the Texas State Senate
State of Texas
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