Govt 2306 ch_7


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Texas Government (GOVT 2306) -- The Legislature

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Govt 2306 ch_7

  1. 1. The Texas Legislature GOVT 2306 Chapter 7
  2. 2. Legislative Framework  Texas, like 48 other states, uses a bicameral lawmaking body to enact bills and adopt resolutions.  The smaller chamber in Texas is called the Senate (with 31 members); the lower chamber is called the House (with 150 members).  Election and Terms of Office  Representatives serve 2-year terms and senators serve 4-year terms—each beginning in January of odd-numbered years.  There is no limit on the number of terms a member may serve.  If a member of the legislature dies, resigns, or is expelled (removed) from office, the vacancy is filled by special election.
  3. 3. Legislative Framework  Sessions  A regular session of the legislature is held every odd-numbered year and lasts for a maximum of 140 days  Special sessions, which can be called only by the governor, can last up to 30 days.  During a special session, the legislature may consider only those matters placed before it by the governor.  There is no limit as to how many special sessions can be called.  Limits on the length of sessions reflect the distrust that people have in their legislative body and a general fear of change  Gov. Clements – “all kinds of bad things can happen when the legislature is in session.”
  4. 4. Legislative Framework  Districting  Redistricting, reflective of population changes, is supposed to be done immediately following the decennial (10 yr.) census.  Redrawing of boundaries after the federal census to create districts with approximately equal population  Conducted the first odd-numbered year after the decennial census  In Texas, the first legislative and congressional elections in districts based on the 2010 census will be conducted in November 2012 for offices filled in January 2013.  Redistricting was completed in November 2011, but was halted in March 2012 by the U.S. District Court of West Texas  An interim plan was announced in March 2012
  5. 5. Legislative Framework  Districting  Issues with redistricting  Can take away areas of constituent who has provided strong voter support to a particular legislator  May add an area of constituents who produce little support and much opposition for a legislator  May produce a new district that includes the residences of two or more representatives or senators  Only one of whom can be reelected to represent the district  Can be used for gerrymandering purposes  Drawing the boundaries of a district to include or exclude certain groups of voters and thus affect election outcomes
  6. 6. Legislative Framework  Districting  Ideal District Plans (2011)  Texas Census Population (2010) – 25,145,561  Texas Congressional Districts – 36  Ideal Population – 698,488  Texas State Senate Districts – 31  Ideal Population – 811,147  Texas State House Districts – 150  Ideal Population – 167,637  Texas State Board of Education – 15  Ideal Population – 1,676, 371
  7. 7. Legislative Framework  Districting  State Legislative Districts  The Texas Constitution stipulates, “the legislature shall, at its first session after the publication of each United States decennial census, apportion the State into Senatorial and Representative districts.”  Federal courts applied the “one man, one vote” principle to Texas, but every redistricting has been followed by complaints about gerrymandering.  If the legislature fails to redistrict, then the Legislative Redistricting Board does the necessary redistricting.  All members of the Texas Legislature are elected in single-member districts.  Area that elects only 1 representative to serve on a policymaking body  Texas enacted this in 1971
  8. 8. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877  United States History after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government  Texas Government  To download a copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 
  9. 9. Legislative Framework  Districting  U.S. Congressional Districts  In the year after a federal census, the Texas Legislature is supposed to draw new district lines for its U.S. congressional districts (from which representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives are elected).  Per the 2000 census, Texas’ 32 congressional districts should have an ideal population of 651,619  After the 2010 census, Texas will have 36 congressional districts with an average of 698,488 per district  This process is not as simple as it seems and often presents political challenges to lawmakers.  2003 redistricting plan by Tom DeLay
  10. 10. Legislators  Members of the Texas Legislature may not hold another government office and must meet specific constitutional requirements.  However, the biographical data for members of recent Texas legislatures suggest informal qualifications that restrict opportunities for election to either of the two chambers.
  11. 11. Legislators  Qualifications and Characteristics  Except for state residency and age, the qualifications are the same for both chambers.  Citizenship, qualified voting status, and district residency of one year apply to both chambers.  To be elected to the House, one must have lived in Texas for at least 2 years and be at least 21 years of age.  Election to the Senate requires one to have lived in Texas for 5 years and to be at least 26 years old.  The minimum age requirements are usually well below the actual age of most first-time members.  Legislators tend to be Anglo, Protestant, male, between 35 and 50 years of age, native born, attorneys or businesspersons, with limited prior legislative service.
  12. 12. Legislators  Gender and Ethnic Classifications  Ethnic and racial minorities may be underrepresented, but their numbers continue to increase.  Women are also underrepresented.  Political Party Affiliation  Though most legislators were still Democrats in 1999, by 2003 both chambers had gone under Republican control for the first time since Reconstruction.  Since that year, each chamber has produced more “party-line” votes  Democrats voting one way on an issue and Republicans voting the other way.
  13. 13. Legislators  Education and Occupation  In government, as in business, most positions of leadership call for college credentials.  Nearly all members of the Texas Legislature claim at least some time in college and most have at least one degree.  Members of the legal profession have a dominant influence because they are more available to be candidates for office.  Lawyer-legislators often face conflict-of-interest charges.  Lesser numbers of real estate and insurance people, and some farmers, ranchers, and teachers have also served.  Medical personnel, engineers, and accountants have held few legislative seats.  Laborers have held almost none.
  14. 14. Legislators  Religious Affiliation  The religious affiliation of each legislator is not a matter of record, but it appears that Catholic senators and representatives are most numerous, followed (in order) by Baptists, Methodists, and Episcopalians.  Religious affiliation has some significance because many top issues today relate to spiritual or moral values.
  15. 15. Legislators  Legislative Experience  Experience is measured in terms of turnover  (first-termers replacing experienced members who have retired or lost an election) and tenure (years served in a legislative chamber).  For the ten recent Texas legislatures (72nd–81st), the average turnover in the House was 26 or about 17 percent of the membership every 2 years.  In the Senate, it was 4.4 or about 14 percent.  Turnover tends to be higher for the first legislature following redistricting.  To date, all efforts to adopt term limits have been unsuccessful.
  16. 16. Compensation  Texas’s legislators receive low pay, reasonable allowances, and a relatively generous retirement pension after a minimum period of service.  Pay and Per Diem Allowance  Legislative salaries are relatively low because voters must approve any increase.  A legislator’s salary is current $7,200 per year plus a per diem, currently set at $168.00 for every day spent in actual service on legislative business.  The $7,200 annual salary has not been increased since 1975.
  17. 17. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877 / after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government / Texas Government  Slide 20 of 56  To download a full copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 