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Texas Senate
Coat of arms or logo.
Type
Type Upper house
Leadership
President of the Senate David Dewhurst, (R)
since January 17, 2003
President Pro Tempore Robert Duncan, (R)
since January 13, 2009
Structure
Members 31
Political groups Democratic Party
Republican Party
Election
Last election November 4, 2008
Meeting place
TexasSenateChamberAustinTX.JPG
Senate Chamber, Texas State Capitol, Austin
Website
http://www.senate.state.tx.us/

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing 31 single-member districts across the state with populations of approximately 672,000 per constituency. There are no term limits in the Senate, and each term is a four-year term. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. There are currently 12 Democrats in the Texas Senate and 19 Republicans as a result of the recent general elections.

Contents

Leadership

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. 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.

The President of the Senate is Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. The President Pro Tempore is Republican Robert Duncan of District 28 (Lubbock).

Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, is the Dean of the Senate, meaning he is the most senior member, having served for 26 years. Senator Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, is the most senior member of his party, and the fourth overall member in terms of seniority.

For the 81st Legislative Session there are only two new, or freshmen, senators, Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, and Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston.

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Leaders

Position Name Party Residence District
Lieutenant Governor/President of the Senate David Dewhurst Republican Austin
President Pro Tempore Robert Duncan Republican Lubbock 28

History

Quorum-busting

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

The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 81st Legislature.

  • Administration
  • Agriculture & Rural Affairs
  • Business & Commerce
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Government Organization
  • Health & Human Services
  • Higher Education
  • Intergovernmental Relations
    • subcommittee: Flooding & Evacuations
  • International Relations & Trade
  • Jurisprudence
  • Natural Resources
  • Nominations
  • 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).

Current composition

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature 20 11 31 0
Begin 19 12 31 0
Latest voting share 61.3% 38.7%

List of members

Senator Party District Home Town Took Office
  Kevin Eltife Republican 1 Tyler 2004
  Bob Deuell Republican 2 Greenville 2003
  Robert Nichols Republican 3 Jacksonville 2007
  Tommy Williams Republican 4 The Woodlands 2003
  Steve Ogden Republican 5 Bryan 1997
  Mario Gallegos, Jr. Democratic 6 Houston 1995
  Dan Patrick Republican 7 Houston 2007
  Florence Shapiro Republican 8 Plano 1993
  Chris Harris Republican 9 Arlington 1991
  Wendy Davis Democrat 10 Fort Worth 2009
  Mike Jackson Republican 11 La Porte 1999
  Jane Nelson Republican 12 Flower Mound 1993
  Rodney Ellis Democratic 13 Houston 1990
  Kirk Watson Democratic 14 Austin 2007
  John Whitmire Democratic 15 Houston 1983
  John Carona Republican 16 Dallas 1996
  Joan Huffman Republican 17 Southside Place 2008
  Glenn Hegar Republican 18 Katy 2007
  Carlos I. Uresti Democratic 19 San Antonio 2006
  Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa Democratic 20 McAllen 2002
  Judith Zaffirini Democratic 21 Laredo 1987
  Kip Averitt Republican 22 Waco 2002
  Royce West Democratic 23 Dallas 1993
  Troy Fraser Republican 24 Horseshoe Bay 1997
  Jeff Wentworth Republican 25 San Antonio 1993
  Leticia R. Van de Putte Democratic 26 San Antonio 1999
  Eddie Lucio, Jr. Democratic 27 Brownsville 1991
  Robert L. Duncan Republican 28 Lubbock 1997
  Eliot Shapleigh Democratic 29 El Paso 1997
  Craig Estes Republican 30 Wichita Falls 2001
  Kel Seliger Republican 31 Amarillo 2004

Past notable members

See also

References

  1. ^ Fikac,Peggy, August 21, 2003, [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=0FD1538CCF2D0E85&p_docnum=1 Senators' 1870 walkout also drew GOP's wrath Reconstruction-era tiff led to arrests and one expulsion], San Antonio Express-News

External links

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


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