Texas State Senate
|Texas State Senate|
|Texas State Legislature|
|Type||Upper house of the Texas Legislature|
|New session started||January 8, 2013|
|President of the Senate||
David Dewhurst, (R) |
Since January 21, 2003
|President Pro Tempore||
Craig Estes, (R) |
Since May 27, 2013
Republican Party (19)|
Democratic Party (12)
|Length of term||4 years|
|Authority||Article 3, Texas Constitution|
|Salary||$7,200/year + per diem|
November 6, 2012|
November 4, 2014|
State Senate Chamber|
Texas State Capitol
|Texas State Senate|
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 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
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, 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. President Pro Tempores are usually the most senior members of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore preside when the Lieutenant Governor is not present or when the legislature is not in regular session.
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.
|Lieutenant Governor/President of the Senate||David Dewhurst||Republican||Austin|
|President Pro Tempore||Craig Estes||Republican||Wichita Falls||30|
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.
The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 81st Legislature.
- Agriculture & Rural Affairs
- Business & Commerce
- Criminal Justice
- Economic Development
- Government Organization
- Health & Human Services
- Higher Education
- Intergovernmental Relations
- subcommittee: Flooding & Evacuations
- International Relations & Trade
- Natural Resources
- State Affairs
- Transportation & Homeland Security
- Veteran Affairs & Military Installations
- subcommittee: Base Realignment & Closure
- Criminal Justice Legislative Oversight (joint committee with Texas House of Representatives)
- Bexar Metropolitan Water District Legislative Oversight (joint committee with House)
In addition, the House and Senate operate the permanent joint committee known as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of previous legislature||19||11||30||1|
|March 3, 2013||12||31||0|
|Latest voting share||61.3%||38.7%|
List of members
†Elected in a special election
Notable past members
- Edward Clark, Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1859–1861), Governor of Texas (1861).
- Wayne Connally, Senator from Wilson County (1967–1973), brother of Governor John Connally.
- Lloyd Doggett, Texas Supreme Court Justice (1989–1994), U.S. House of Representatives (1995–present).
- Chet Edwards, U.S. House of Representatives (1991–2011).
- James W. Flanagan, U.S. Senate (1870–1875).
- John Ireland, Texas Supreme Court Justice (1876), Governor of Texas (1883–1887).
- Eddie Bernice Johnson, U.S. House of Representatives (1993–present).
- Rienzi Melville Johnston, U.S. Senate (1913).
- Barbara Jordan, U.S. House of Representatives (1973–1979).
- Earle Bradford Mayfield, U.S. Senate (1923–1929).
- William Neff "Bill" Patman, Senator from Jackson County (1961–1981), U.S. House of Representatives (1981–1985).
- Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Governor of Texas, (1887–1891).
- Joseph D. Sayers, Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1879–1881), U.S. House of Representatives (1885–1898), Governor of Texas 1899–1903).
- Allan Shivers, Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1946–1949), Governor of Texas (1949–1957).
- Preston Smith, Governor of Texas (1969–1973).
- Frank Tejeda, U.S. House of Representatives (1993–1997).
- James W. Throckmorton, Governor of Texas (1866–1867), U.S. House of Representatives (1874–1888).
- Carlos Truan, Senator from Corpus Christi from 1977 to 2003; author of Texas Bilingual Education Act
- Jim Turner, U.S. House of Representatives (1997–2005).
- Matthias Ward, U.S. Senate (1858–1859).
- Ferdinand C. Weinert, Texas House and Texas Senate (1893–1935), Texas Secretary of State (1913).
- Louis Wigfall, U.S. Senate (1859–1861).
- Charles Wilson, U.S. House of Representatives (1973–1996).
- Texas Legislature
- Texas House of Representatives
- List of Presidents pro tempore of the Texas Senate
- Texas Government Newsletter Voting History of the Texas Legislature.
- Official website