The Texas Senate is the yin to the House’s yang. Referred to as the upper half, while the House is the lower half, together these chambers make the tx lege. The point of having two chambers is to moderate out the legislative process and make it more difficult for the whole legislative branch to coordinate efforts for any agenda.
But, once again, we reiterate: LOL. We live in a trifecta state where our governorship, senate and house are controlled by one party. Although, the Texas Senate is controlled by Republicans only 18-13 (Dems got so close, yet so far). The Texas Senate differs from the House pretty obviously through the amount of members in each chamber. The Senate has 31 seats for 31 districts in our big ass state compared to the House’s resounding 150 representatives. Texas Senators are repping way more area in comparison for 4-year terms and no term limits. 16 seats out of the chamber’s 31 seats were up for election in 2020.
Remember, the people who represent our regions and make legislation on our behalf have names and numbers 👀.
Need to know who you need to bully? Find your senator here.
Role in Legislative Session:
Similar to the Texas House, the Senate can introduce legislation in their chamber. A senator/sponsor of the bill will propose legislation, and the Lieutenant Governor will then assign it to a committee accordingly. The committees form research, collect opinions on the bill, and edit the bill before approving or denying it to go to the other side – the House. Many bills die in the committees once the committees conclude that the bill is similar to another, or, it’s just like, shitty.
If the bill does make it out of its committee and the House it goes to the second boss: The Floor. Bills have three major touchpoints on its way to becoming legislation. First reading is in the respective chamber, the second reading is on the floor with the full Senate, and the third reading is on the floor of both chambers.
Floor action includes amendments and debates and the Texas Senate floor action is notorious for it. The Senate permits members to speak for as long as they wish (or otherwise can physically sustain). You may have heard of a filibuster, or “talking a bill to death”. Yeah, that’s where this happens. Former State Sen. Wendy Davis is famous for her 2013, 13-hour, anti-abortion legislation filibuster.
Foot on the throats of Senators with those pink running shoes, as she should.
The Lieutenant Governor is weirdly referred to as the “President of the Texas Senate.” This position has a very unique type of power being both a part of the legislative branch and the executive branch. The Lt. Gov. is the basically most powerful elected in the state, and if the Governor kicks the bucket, they assume his position.
Out of the 50 states, Texas is one of few states that puts so much power in lieutenant governor title. Texas’ Lt. Gov. is Dan Patrick (R) and has been since 2015. If his name seems familiar it could be from an array of things from the Dan Patrick show, or maybe the piece of legislation he filed last week in protest of the Dallas Mavericks not playing the National Anthem at their games. We could go on, but we can be petty on our own time. Let’s talk about Mr. Dirty Dan and what he does in this position.
- Establishes all special and standing committees,
- Appoints all chairpersons and members to said committees,
- Assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice,
- Decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate,
- Takes over if the Governor dies, resigns, is removed from office, or is absent from the state
In conclusion – Dan do too much. This only scratches the surface, but the extent of these powers is worth diving into. While many committees may have intersecting interests, it’s ultimately Patrick’s decision and preference as to what committee it ends up in.
Because the Senate only has 31 members, they serve on four or five committees at a time in comparison to the House’s usual two or three. Once again, committee membership is determined entirely by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Unlike the House’s committee jurisdiction, the Senate’s committees do not specify jurisdiction, meaning there is no rule about what the committee’s assigned territory is and what bills go there, but the bills are most likely still going to the unofficial committee jurisdiction, or, ya know, we hope.
Senate committees and subcommittees must post notice of their meetings 24 hours in advance. That’s not a lot of heads up, but it’s a heads up nonetheless? Make sure to check which meetings are open to the public and able to hear testimony because the Senate is kind of a mess and it needs you to tell it what to do. You’re really gonna let DAN handle all this?! Nah-uh. Look alive.
Okay, so, did you get all that?
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