Texas Senate

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Texas State Senate
Texas State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Term limits
None
History
New session started
January 8, 2015
Leadership
President of the Senate
David Dewhurst (R)
since January 21, 2003
President Pro Tempore
Craig Estes (R)
since May 27, 2013
Structure
Seats 31
Political groups

Governing party

Opposition party

Texas Senate Seating Diagram.svg
Length of term
4 years
Authority Article 3, Texas Constitution
Salary $7,200/year + per diem
Elections
Last election
November 4, 2014
(15 seats)
Next election
November 1, 2016
(15 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
TexasSenateChamberAustinTX.JPG
State Senate Chamber
Texas State Capitol
Austin, Texas
Website
Texas State Senate
Another view of the Texas Senate (2013)

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas State Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing single-member districts across the U.S. state of Texas, with populations of approximately 806,000 per constituency, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. Texas Senate elections are held every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November on the same date as gubernatorial elections. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. However, in elections ending in years ending in 2, half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. Those who drew the 2-year terms will run in the year ending in 4 for a four-year term. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats, as of January 13, 2015.

Leadership[edit]

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas serves as the President of the Senate. The Lieutenant Governor's duties include presiding over the Senate, appointing chairs of committees, committee members, assigning and referring bills to specific committees, recognizing members during debate, and making procedural rulings. The Lieutenant Governor may also cast a vote should a Senate floor vote end in a tie. If the Senate votes to dissolve itself into the Committee of the Whole, in which all members are part of the Committee, the President Pro-Tempore resides over the proceedings, with the Lieutenant Governor acting as a regular voting member. Due to the various powers of committee selection and bill assignment, the Lieutenant Governor is arguably considered more powerful than the Governor of Texas[citation needed], and is considered one of the most powerful lieutenant governorships in the United States.

Unlike other state legislatures, the Texas Senate does not include majority or minority leaders. Instead, the President Pro Tempore is considered the second most powerful position, and can be reserved to any political party in the chamber regardless if the party is a majority or not. Presidents Pro Tempore are usually the most senior members of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore presides when the Lieutenant Governor is not present or when the legislature is not in regular session.

For the 82nd Legislative Session, which began in 2011, there were only two new, or freshman, senators, Brian Birdwell, a Republican from Granbury, and José R. Rodríguez, a Democrat from El Paso.

For the 83rd Legislative Session, which began in 2013, there were six new senators, including Sylvia Garcia, who succeeded the late senator Mario Gallego through a special election. The five other new senators were Charles Schwertner, a Republican from Georgetown, Ken Paxton, a Republican from McKinney, Kelly Hancock, a Republican from Fort Worth, Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood, and Donna Campbell, a Republican from New Braunfels. For this term of the Legislature the President of the Senate is Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. The President Pro Tempore is Republican Craig Estes of District 30 (Wichita Falls). Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, is the Dean of the Senate, meaning he is the most senior member, having served since 1987. Senator Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, is the most senior member of his party, and the fourth most-senior overall member.

New senators elected in 2014 are Bob Hall, Paul Bettencourt, Van Taylor, Don Huffines, and Konni Burton, all Republicans.

Leaders[edit]

Position Name Party Residence District
Lieutenant Governor/President of the Senate Dan Patrick Republican Houston
President Pro Tempore Craig Estes Republican Wichita Falls 30

History[edit]

Quorum-busting[edit]

Further information: Texas Eleven, Rump Senate

There have been at least three cases of quorum-busting in Texas Senate history. The first case was in 1870, with the Rump Senate, followed by the 1979 Killer Bees, and finally the Texas Eleven in the summer of 2003, who were following the example of the Texas house Killer Ds.[1]

Committee Structure[edit]

The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 83rd Legislature.

  • Administration
  • Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security
  • Business & Commerce
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic Development
    • Subcommittee on Public-Private Partnerships
  • Education
  • Finance
    • Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters
  • Government Organization
  • Health & Human Services
  • Higher Education
  • Intergovernmental Relations
  • Jurisprudence
  • Natural Resources
  • Nominations
  • Open Government
  • State Affairs
  • Transportation
  • Veteran Affairs & Military Installations

In addition, the House and Senate operate the permanent joint committee known as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

Current composition[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature 19 11 30 1
Begin 2013[2] 19 11 30 1, seat currently held by State Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar
March 3, 2013[3] 12 31 0
Latest voting share 61.3% 38.7%

List of members[edit]

District Senator Party Residence First
elected
Next
election
County(ies) represented
1 Kevin Eltife Republican Tyler 2004† 2016 Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Wood, Upshur
2 Bob Hall Republican Edgewood in Van Zandt County 2014 2018 Dallas (part), Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, Van Zandt
3 Robert Nichols Republican Jacksonville 2006 2018 Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Montgomery (part), Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler
4 Brandon Creighton Republican The Woodlands 2014 2016 Chambers, Galveston (part), Harris (part), Jefferson, Montgomery (part)
5 Charles Schwertner Republican Georgetown 2012 2018 Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, Williamson
6 Sylvia Garcia Democratic Houston 2013† 2016 Harris (part)
7 Paul Bettencourt Republican Houston 2014 2018 Harris (part)
8 Van Taylor Republican Plano 2014 2018 Collin (part), Dallas (part)
9 Kelly Hancock Republican Fort Worth 2012 2018 Dallas (part), Tarrant (part)
10 Konni Burton Republican Colleyville 2014 2018 Tarrant (part)
11 Larry Taylor Republican Friendswood 2012 2016 Brazoria (part), Galveston (part), Harris (part)
12 Jane Nelson Republican Flower Mound 1992 2016 Denton (part), Tarrant (part)
13 Rodney Ellis Democratic Houston 1990† 2016 Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
14 Kirk Watson Democratic Austin 2006 2018 Bastrop, Travis (part)
15 John Whitmire Democratic Houston 1982 2018 Harris (part)
16 Don Huffines Republican Dallas 2014 2018 Dallas (part)
17 Joan Huffman Republican Southside Place 2008† 2018 Brazoria (part), Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
18 Glenn Hegar (departing) Republican Katy 2006 2014 Aransas, Austin, Burleson, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend (part), Goliad, Gonzales, Harris (part), Jackson, Lee, Matagorda, Nueces (part), Re fugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington
19 Carlos I. Uresti Democratic San Antonio 2006 2016 Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Brewster, Crockett, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kinney, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Real, Reeves, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Zavala
20 Juan Hinojosa Democratic McAllen 2002 2016 Brooks, Hidalgo (part), Jim Wells, Nueces (part)
21 Judith Zaffirini Democratic Laredo 1986 2016 Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Bee, Caldwell, Duval, Guadalupe (part), Live Oak, Frio, Jim Hogg, Karnes, La Salle, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Travis (part), Uvalde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata
22 Brian Birdwell Republican Granbury 2010† 2016 Bosque, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood (part), Frio, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro, Somervell, Tarrant (part)
23 Royce West Democratic Dallas 1992 2018 Dallas (part)
24 Troy Fraser Republican Horseshoe Bay 1996 2016 Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Comanche, Coryell, Gillespie, Hamilton, Kerr, Lampasas, Llano, Mills, San Saba, Taylor (part), Travis(part)
25 Donna Campbell Republican New Braunfels 2012 2018 Bexar (part), Travis (part), Comal, Hays, Kendall
26 Leticia R. Van de Putte Democratic San Antonio 1998 2016 Bexar (part)
27 Eddie Lucio, Jr. Democratic Brownsville 1990 2016 Cameron, Hidalgo (part), Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy
28 Charles Perry Republican Lubbock 2014 2016 Baylor, Borden, Childress, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Eastland, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Hale, Hardeman, Haskell, Hockley, Irion, Jones, Kent, Kimble, King, Knox, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Mason, McColluch, Menard, Mitchell, Montague, Motley, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels, Sleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Wheeler, Wilbarger, Young
29 José R. Rodríguez Democratic El Paso 2010 2016 Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio
30 Craig Estes Republican Wichita Falls 2000 2018 Archer, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, Young
31 Kel Seliger Republican Amarillo 2004† 2018 Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Cochran, Collingsworth, Coke, Coleman, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hartley, Hemphill, Hansford, Howard, Hutchinson, Jones, Lipscomb, Loving, Lynn, Martin, Midland, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Wheeler, Winkler, Yoakum

†Elected in a special election

Notable past members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°16′28″N 97°44′24″W / 30.274537°N 97.739906°W / 30.274537; -97.739906