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  • Like the U.S. Congress, the Texas Legislature is bicameral, with two chambers: a house of representatives and a senate. Here, members of the Texas House of Representatives take a break during the 2011 session.
  • It isn ’t always about policy, of course. Sometimes, some individuals simply are not good party leaders, for whatever reason. They may lack the intelligence or the ability to make deals or reach out in ways that generate support. The task here, though, is to reveal the seemingly obvious point that party members are not all of one mind and that they are willing to act when they feel their views are not being adequately accepted. Highlight two things: GOP only recently became powerhouse in the House. Two powerful GOP factions in Texas politics (recurring theme); here we see the moderate/conservative split among elected officials. In other chapters, we see that distinction among voters, too. Note: Straus continues to be challenged by his own party, illustrating the fierce party competition among Republicans in state office.
  • This is the perfect opportunity to review how the U.S. Congress functions through the use of conference committees. The subject comes up again later in the chapter. Have students discuss the merits and limitations associated with having a part-time legislature. They should be aware that many states with much smaller populations and geographic space meet more often (annually). How does this reflect the political culture in the region and state discussed in the earlier chapter? More details on full- and part-time legislative differences can be located at the National Conference of State Legislatures: www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/legislatures/full-and-part-time-legislatures.aspx
  • Obviously, all bills can be passed with unanimous agreement. The difference is that these kinds of bills (congratulating people for community or personal accomplishments) do not go the normal route of committee hearings and so on. They allow legislators to develop good will with their constituents while not taking up valuable floor time. Since the legislative sessions are so short, there is not much time to expend on these gestures. Legislators are doing relatively low-cost constituent service that gains them good publicity and word of mouth with these honorary gestures.
  • You might ask your students if being 21 years old is old enough to serve in the House effectively, or if it should be older?
  • Ask students why Texas has more diversity by gender, race/ethnicity, and occupation relative to the U.S. Congress.
  • Although the “typical” member of the Texas state legislature is white and male, women and minority groups have increased their representation in recent years. For example, state Senator Leticia Van de Putte has become a prominent figure in Texas politics.
  • This also is a topic that could generate some good discussion. Do the students think there are people who would make good legislators who simply cannot hold office if they make that little in salary? Explore why some would think it is a good idea for state lawmakers to make such little money? What are the drawbacks to this system? How does it reflect Texas political culture?
  • The Texas legislature is designed to be a representative body, which looks and sounds like the state as a whole. How well does the legislature represent Texas? In many ways, the legislature does not look like Texas, but it is more diverse than the U.S. Congress. *Will need updating* This infographic presents data for the Texas House in 2009–2010 . While the state has no ethnic majority in its population, two-thirds of Texas House members are white. The state is evenly split between men and women, while the legislature is over three-quarters male. Perhaps the biggest differences, though, regard socioeconomic status. Over half of the members of the Texas House hold graduate degrees, while only 8.2 percent of the state’s population does. Questions for Classroom Discussion: How much do you think the racial, gender, and socioeconomic makeup of the Texas legislature matter to the type of laws that the legislature passes? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more middle-class members, would they pass different policies? Why do you think that members of the Texas legislature come from the more educated, higher socioeconomic groups? Does the structure of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run?
  • The Texas Legislature is designed to be a representative body, which looks and sounds like the state as a whole. How well does the legislature represent Texas? In many ways, the legislature does not look like Texas. While the state has no ethnic majority, two-thirds of Texas House members are white. The state is evenly split between men and women, while the legislature is over three-quarters male. Perhaps the biggest differences, though, regard socioeconomic status. Over half of the members of the Texas House hold graduate degrees, while only 8.2 percent of the state ’s population does. How might gender influence policy making? Would an all-women legislature generate different policy? What about an all-male legislature? Questions for Classroom Discussion: How much do you think the racial, gender, and socioeconomic makeup of the Texas legislature matter to the type of laws that the legislature passes? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more middle-class members, would they pass different policies? Why do you think that members of the Texas legislature come from the more educated, higher socioeconomic groups? Does the structure of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run?
  • The Texas legislature is designed to be a representative body, which looks and sounds like the state as a whole. How well does the legislature represent Texas? In many ways, the legislature does not look like Texas. *Will need updating* This info graphic presents data for the Texas House in 2009–2010. While the state has no ethnic majority in its population, two-thirds of Texas House members are white. The state is evenly split between men and women, while the legislature is over three-quarters male. Perhaps the biggest differences, though, regard socioeconomic status. Over half of the members of the Texas House hold graduate degrees, while only 8.2 percent of the state ’s population does. Why does Texas have more racial and ethnic diversity compared to Congress? What is the role of party? What about majority-minority districts (naturally occurring MMDs rarely occurs to people, most presume germanders get most minorities to office). Explore Census maps to see who lives where. Questions for Classroom Discussion: How much do you think the racial, gender, and socioeconomic makeup of the Texas legislature matter to the type of laws that the legislature passes? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more middle-class members, would they pass different policies? Why do you think that members of the Texas legislature come from the more educated, higher socioeconomic groups? Does the structure of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run?
  • The Texas legislature is designed to be a representative body, which looks and sounds like the state as a whole. How well does the legislature represent Texas? In many ways, the legislature does not look like Texas. * Will need updating* This infographic presents data for the Texas House in 2009–2010. While the state has no ethnic majority in its population, two-thirds of Texas House members are white. The state is evenly split between men and women, while the legislature is over three-quarters male. Perhaps the biggest differences, though, regard socioeconomic status. Over half of the members of the Texas House hold graduate degrees, while only 8.2 percent of the state’s population does. In their view, does this educated body support higher education for their state constituents? What evidence do they have to this effect? Questions for Classroom Discussion: How much do you think the racial, gender, and socioeconomic makeup of the Texas legislature matter to the type of laws that the legislature passes? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more middle-class members, would they pass different policies? Why do you think that members of the Texas legislature come from the more educated, higher socioeconomic groups? Does the structure of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run?
  • The Texas legislature is designed to be a representative body, which looks and sounds like the state as a whole. How well does the legislature represent Texas? In many ways, the legislature does not look like Texas. * Will need updating* This infographic presents data for the Texas House in 2009–2010. While the state has no ethnic majority in its population, two-thirds of Texas House members are white. The state is evenly split between men and women, while the legislature is over three-quarters male. Perhaps the biggest differences, though, regard socioeconomic status. Over half of the members of the Texas House hold graduate degrees, while only 8.2 percent of the state’s population does. Questions for Classroom Discussion: How much do you think the racial, gender, and socioeconomic makeup of the Texas legislature matter to the type of laws that the legislature passes? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more middle-class members, would they pass different policies? Why do you think that members of the Texas legislature come from the more educated, higher socioeconomic groups? Does the structure of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run?
  • TABLE 23.1 Gender and Minority Membership in the Texas Legislature SOURCES: Texas State Directory ; Texas House Legislative Black Caucus; National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. State demographic data calculated from the 2010 Census.
  • “ Why is this so?” you might want to ask. Hopefully, students should see the connection to Texas’s history as being a one-party state.
  • Have students explore video where the Speaker literally controls the debate using this option.
  • Students may find the seniority element confusing. Essentially, the remaining seats are determined by asking the members, in order of how long they have served, on what committees they would like to serve.
  • Moreover, as the chapter points out, the leaders also determine who is on the conference committee. You may want to have the students imagine what life is like for legislators who get on the wrong side of the Speaker.
  • FIGURE 23.1 How a Bill Becomes a Law in Texas (if introduced in the House) *The governor may also veto a portion of the bill through a line-item veto. SOURCE: Texas State Senate, Citizen Handbook. Assign a group project where students trace a successful and failed bill through the process.
  • TABLE 23.3 Total Number of Vetoes by Texas Governors *Record number of vetoes by a Texas governor. SOURCE: Texas Legislature, “Legislative Statistics,” April 20, 2010; Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Bill Statistics."
  • The key point to drive home is that there is no neutral way to redistrict. The decision rule used is always political. Is there a more desirable rule? Iowa has a rule that a bipartisan board must create as many competitive districts as possible. Is this a good rule to use? Explain it is important because the STATE decides where the districts will be located. Apportionment only allocates the number of seats to the state. Federal government does not tell us where the new representatives will come from. In other states, it is sticky because members lose their districts. It is worth exploring those maps, too. Texas must comply with the Voting Rights Act, and maps must be approved via the preclearance process. This will be discussed in detail in later chapters.
  • In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the new boundaries drawn in the Republicans’ controversial redistricting but found that some of the redrawn districts failed to protect minority voting rights. Here, Governor Perry displays the new redistricting map. The new map drawn by Republicans after the 2010 census again went to the federal courts.
  • Before a law is passed in Texas, it is voted on by the two chambers of the legislature—the House and the Senate. Here, state senator Jeff Wentworth casts a vote; raising one finger means “yes” and two fingers mean “no.”
  • Although the “typical” member of the Texas state legislature is white and male, women and minority groups have increased their representation in recent years. In 2003, Democratic senators charged that the Republicans’ plan to redraw electoral districts would reduce minority representation dramatically.
  • Before becoming law in Texas, a bill must pass in both houses of the legislature. In 2009 and 2011, the Texas Senate passed bills to allow concealed fi rearms on college campuses, but the bill did not pass in the Texas House and thus failed to become law.
  • The media can influence the legislative agenda through the stories that they cover. Accordingly, legislators try to attract media attention that will support their positions. Here, House Speaker Joe Straus speaks at a press conference.
  • The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful people in Texas politics. In 2009, Tom Craddick (left) was replaced as Speaker by Joe Straus (right).
  • The public and interest groups may also influence the legislature. During a special session in which the legislature dealt with tax reduction, these Houston-area realtors and others demonstrated in favor of property tax relief.
  • In 2011, Representative J. M. Lozano announced that he was leaving the Democrats and joining the House Republicans. This switch gave the Republicans a supermajority of 100 members in the House, enabling them to pass legislation without fear of Democratic interference.
  • Although the Texas Legislature is not as susceptible to partisan squabbling as the U.S. Congress, flare-ups between the Democrats and Republicans do occur. For example, in this photo, Texas House Democrats celebrate their return to Texas in May 2003, after spending four days in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to kill a GOP-produced congressional redistricting plan.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Chapter 7The TexasLegislature
    • 2. The Texas Legislature
    • 3. What Government Does and Why It Matters2002, GOP wins Texas House First time since Reconstruction (120+ years) Tom Craddick (R-Midland) elected Speaker Conservative wing of party supported him Could not hold his party together thoughJanuary 2009 Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) elected Speaker Moderate Republicans and Democrats support him Conflict with strong conservatives in the GOP
    • 4. Structure of Texas LegislatureTexas Senate 31 senators Represent ~819,000 constituents each More than a U.S. congressperson from Texas Serve four-year terms No term limits
    • 5. Structure of Texas LegislatureTexas House 150 representatives Represent ~169,000 constituents each Serve two-year terms No term limits
    • 6. Structure of Texas LegislatureNonprofessional legislature: not full-time jobConvenes 140 days in odd-numbered years Regular sessions are five months, January to MayLegislation must pass in the exact same form in two chambers that represent different constituent districts.
    • 7. Structure of Texas LegislatureLocal and consent Legislatures pass all kinds of trivial bills. Honorific Local and not expensive (good will with voters) Goal is to save time for the major legislation These kinds of bills can be passed by unanimous agreement without taking up floor time.
    • 8. Membership in the LegislatureQualifications U.S. citizen and a qualified voterSenate 26 years old Resident of state for five years, one year in districtHouse 21 years old Resident of state for two years, one year in district
    • 9. Membership in the LegislatureLike U.S. Congress, most Texas legislators: White, male, and ProtestantTexas legislature more diverse, though: 25% Latino (U.S. Congress 5%) 9% African American (U.S. Congress 7%) 20% women (compared to U.S. Congress 17%) 31% attorneys (compared to U.S. Congress 45%)
    • 10. Membership
    • 11. Membership in the LegislatureSalaries $7,200 per year $150 per day when legislature is in session Up to 12 days per month when not in session Another indicator of nonprofessional status
    • 12. WHO ARE TEXANS?Chapter 7 WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF TEXAS LEGISLATURE?
    • 13. WHO ARE TEXANS?Who are the Members of Texas Legislature?Gender TX Pop. TX House Female 50% 24% Male 50% 76% Key Texas PopulationSOURCES: For Texas House, 2009–2010, numbers calculated by author based on data fromthe online version of the Texas State Directory, www.txdirectory.com/. State demographic data Texas House ofcalculated from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2006–2008. Representatives
    • 14. WHO ARE TEXANS?Who are the Members of Texas Legislature?Race TX Pop. TX House White 48% 69% Black 12% 9% Hispanic 36% 20% Asian 3% 1% Key Texas PopulationSOURCES: For Texas House, 2009–2010, numbers calculated by author based on data fromthe online version of the Texas State Directory, www.txdirectory.com/. State demographic data Texas House ofcalculated from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2006–2008. Representatives
    • 15. WHO ARE TEXANS?Who are the Members of Texas Legislature?Education TX Pop. TX House < High school 21% — High School grad 27% 14% Associate’s degree 6% 1% Bachelor’s degree 17% 35% Masters degree 8% 50% Doctorate <1% 5% Key Texas PopulationSOURCES: For Texas House, 2009–2010, numbers calculated by author based on data fromthe online version of the Texas State Directory, www.txdirectory.com/. State demographic data Texas House ofcalculated from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2006–2008. Representatives
    • 16. WHO ARE TEXANS?Who are the Members of Texas Legislature?Occupation Business Attorney Community Health Accounting Other Service Care 3% 12% 43% 31% 8% 4%SOURCES: For Texas House, 2009–2010, numbers calculated by author based on data from the online version of the Texas State Directory, www.txdirectory.com/. Statedemographic data calculated from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2006–2008.
    • 17. Gender and Minority Membershipin the Texas Legislature
    • 18. Sources of the Leadership’s PowerThe Texas legislature differs dramatically from Congress with respect to political parties. No formal party leader roles More bipartisan in nature Committees can be chaired by either party. Appointments made by Speaker of the House and lieutenant governor are aimed at getting support from both parties.
    • 19. Sources of the Leadership’s PowerTwo-thirds rule A bill requires a two-thirds vote in Senate for a bill to be voted on out of orderRecognition Speaker determines how much floor time a bill gets, and also controls who can speak Very powerful political tool allowing some legislators to shine, while others are shut down
    • 20. Sources of the Leadership’s PowerSpeaker appoints half of all committee seats and also designates the chairLt. Gov. appoints 80 percent of all committee seats and also designates the chair Remainder in both chambers is by seniorityVery powerful mechanism for obtaining loyalty of committee members and chairs
    • 21. Sources of the Leadership’s PowerCommittees In U.S. Congress, committees have clear jurisdictions. Less so in Texas, where jurisdictions can overlapLeadership can choose the committees to send a bill, allowing for more likelihood of passage or less
    • 22. How a Bill Becomes a Law inTexas
    • 23. Total Number of Vetoes by TexasGovernors
    • 24. RedistrictingEspecially important in Texas Gained seats in nine of last 10 reapportionments 2010, Texas picked up four seats (36 total)Districts must have equal number of voters. Redistricting takes place after each census. Legislature draws new maps. Legislative Redistricting Board if no agreementFederal preclearance required in Texas
    • 25. Redistricting
    • 26. Public Opinion PollShould the Texas legislature meet annually (instead ofevery other year as they do now)?a) Yesb) No
    • 27. Public Opinion PollWould you approve of a districting commission that required that equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats draw new congressional districts?a) Strongly approveb) Approvec) Disapproved) Strongly disapprove
    • 28. Public Opinion PollWould you approve of longer legislative sessions?a) Strongly approveb) Approvec) Disapproved) Strongly disapprove
    • 29. Public Opinion PollIs $7,200 an appropriate salary for staterepresentatives and senators?a) Yesb) No
    • 30. Public Opinion PollShould Texas legislators have term limits?a) Yesb) No
    • 31. Chapter 23: The Texas LegislatureQuizzesFlashcardsOutlinesExerciseswwnorton.com/we-the-people
    • 32. Following this slide, you will find additionalimages, figures, and tables from the textbook.
    • 33. Floor Action
    • 34. The Governor
    • 35. Bicameralism
    • 36. The Media
    • 37. Power in the Legislature
    • 38. The Public
    • 39. Centralizing Power: Sources ofthe Leadership’s Power
    • 40. Centralizing Power