Understand how the Texas State Legislature is organized
Understand the Committee structure
Understand the presiding officers of the Texas State Legislature
Understand the roles played by the presiding officers
Although members are elected on partisan ballots, both houses of the Legislature are officially organized on a nonpartisan basis, with members of both parties serving in leadership positions such as committee chairmanships. As of 2018, a majority of the members of each chamber are members of the Republican Party.
A committee is a group of legislators appointed by the presiding officer of the house or the senate to which proposed legislation is referred or a specific task is assigned.
The size of the legislature and the volume of work confronting it each session make lengthy deliberation on all proposed measures by the entire membership a difficult task. For this reason, the basic business in both chambers is conducted according to the committee system. Committees to consider introduced bills and advise on their disposition are created in the rules of procedure of the respective chambers. Although nearly all bills are referred to a committee, a large number of bills are never reported out of committee. Thus, committee action is a crucial step in the process by which a bill becomes law.
The presiding officers (the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor) have substantial power over the committee process.
The Lieutenant Governor appoints all chairs and members of Senate committees, and refers all bills to committee. The lieutenant governor also schedules most bills for consideration on the Senate floor. Bills that are local or uncontested are scheduled by the Senate Administration Committee.
The speaker appoints chairs and members of all House committees and refers all bills to a committee. Bills are scheduled for consideration on the House floor by the Calendars Committee.
Types of Committees
There are six types of Committees in the Texas State Legislature:
Standing: Peramanent--existing from one regular session to the next
Substantive: Work on legislation, rather than process (rules), calendars, or administration
Procedural: Work on the chamber process (rules), calendars or administration
Special (aka Ad Hoc): Temporary
Interim: Work between regular sessions
Conference (aka Joint): Comprised of members from the house and senate
Committees of the Texas State Legislature
There are a total of 55 standing committees in the Texas State Legislature. There is 1 joint standing committee. The Texas Senate has 18 standing committees. The Texas House has 36 standing committees. These are the Committees of the Texas House of Representative and the Texas Senate:
The presiding officeres have wide latitude in choosing committee membership in their respective chambers and have a large impact on lawmaking in the state.
Texas Senate Leadership: The Lieutenant Governor
As presiding officer of the Senate, the lieutenant governor is officially called the President of the Senate. The lieutenant governor is elected by a statewide popular vote to serve a four year term of office. The lieutenant governor is not a member of the Senate, and votes only in case of a tie. The lieutenant governor appoints all chairs and members of Senate committees, and refers all bills to committee. The lieutenant governor also schedules most bills for consideration on the Senate floor.
The current Lieutenant Governor is Dan Patrick.
Texas House of Representatives Leadership: The Speaker of the House
The speaker of the House is the presiding officer, elected by a majority of House members. The speaker appoints chairs and members of all House committees and refers all bills to a committee.