Author:
Annette Howard
Subject:
Political Science
Material Type:
Reading
Level:
Community College / Lower Division
Tags:
  • Committees
  • Leadership
  • Legislature
  • Organization
  • Texas
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Text/HTML

    Chapter 7.6: Organization and Leadership

    Chapter 7.6:  Organization and Leadership

    Overview

    Organization and leadership of the Texas State Legislature.

    Learning Objectives

    By the end of this section, students will be able to:

    • 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

    By the end of this section, you will be able to:

    • 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

    Organization

    Organization

    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.

    Committees

    Committees

    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

    Types of Committees

    There are six types of Committees in the Texas State Legislature:

    1. Standing: Peramanent--existing from one regular session to the next
    2. Substantive: Work on legislation, rather than process (rules), calendars, or administration
    3. Procedural: Work on the chamber process (rules), calendars or administration
    4. Special (aka Ad Hoc): Temporary
    5. Interim: Work between regular sessions
    6. Conference (aka Joint): Comprised of members from the house and senate

    Committees of the Texas State Legislature

    Committees

    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:

    House

    Senate

    Presiding Officers

    Presiding officers

    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.

    Image result for dan patrick texas

    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.

    The current Speaker of the House is Dennis Bonnen.

    Speaker standing in the chamber

    Reading Review Questions

    1. Why is the Texas Legislature considered nonpartisan? Since what year have both houses been a majority Republican?

    2. What is a committee? What are the two primary duties of committees?

    3. What powers does the Lt. Governor & Speaker of the House have over committees in their respective chambers?

    4. MATCHING:

       conferenceA.  temporary / also called Ad Hoc
       interimB.  work on legislation
       proceduralC.  members from both chambers
       specialD.  exist from one session to the next
       standingE.  work between sessions
       substantiveF.  work on rules, calendars or administration

       

    5. How many standing committees are there in the Texas Legislature? Break that down by chamber. 

    6. What is the title of the presiding officer in the Senate? Who currently holds that position?

    7. How does the President of the Senate get his seat? What is his only real “legislative” power?

    8. Who is the current Speaker of the Texas House? How does he get that position of leadership? Who currently holds that position?