Not to be confused with the two United States Senators from Texas.
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. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. Elections are held in even numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In elections ending in years ending in 2, all seats are up for election. Half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. As such, in other elections, about half of the Texas Senate is on the ballot. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats, as of January 10, 2017.
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas serves as the President of the Senate. Unlike most lieutenant governors who are constitutionally designated as presiding officers of the upper house, the Lieutenant Governor regularly exercises this function. The Lieutenant Governor's duties include 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 presides 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 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. Presidents Pro Tempore are usually the most senior members of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore presides when the Lieutenant Governor is not present or when the legislature is not in regular session.
For the 82nd Legislative Session, which began in 2011, there were only two new, or freshman, senators, Brian Birdwell, a Republican from Granbury, and José R. Rodríguez, a Democrat from El Paso.
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 GovernorDan Patrick. The President Pro Tempore is RepublicanCraig 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.
New senators elected in 2014 are Bob Hall, Paul Bettencourt, Van Taylor, Don Huffines, and Konni Burton, all Republicans.
Further information: Texas Eleven and Twelfth Texas Legislature § Rump Senate
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 August 2003, who were following the example of the Texas house Killer Ds.
The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 85th Legislature.
- Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs
- Business & Commerce
- Criminal Justice
- Health & Human Services
- Higher Education
- Intergovernmental Relations
- Natural Resources & Economic Development
- State Affairs
- Veteran Affairs & Military Installations
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||7001645000000000000♠64.5%||7001355000000000000♠35.5%|
List of members
|1||Bryan Hughes||Republican||Mineola||2016||2020||Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Wood, Upshur|
|2||Bob Hall||Republican||Edgewood in Van Zandt County||2014||2018||Dallas (part), Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, Van Zandt|
|3||Robert Nichols||Republican||Jacksonville||2006||2018||Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Montgomery (part), Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler|
|4||Brandon Creighton||Republican||The Woodlands||2014†||2020||Chambers, Galveston (part), Harris (part), Jefferson, Montgomery (part)|
|5||Charles Schwertner||Republican||Georgetown||2012||2018||Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, Williamson|
|6||Sylvia Garcia||Democratic||Houston||2013†||2020||Harris (part)|
|7||Paul Bettencourt||Republican||Houston||2014||2018||Harris (part)|
|8||Van Taylor||Republican||Plano||2014||2018||Collin (part), Dallas (part)|
|9||Kelly Hancock||Republican||Fort Worth||2012||2018||Dallas (part), Tarrant (part)|
|10||Konni Burton||Republican||Colleyville||2014||2018||Tarrant (part)|
|11||Larry Taylor||Republican||Friendswood||2012||2020||Brazoria (part), Galveston (part), Harris (part)|
|12||Jane Nelson||Republican||Flower Mound||1992||2020||Denton (part), Tarrant (part)|
|13||Borris Miles||Democratic||Houston||2016||2020||Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)|
|14||Kirk Watson||Democratic||Austin||2006||2018||Bastrop, Travis (part)|
|15||John Whitmire||Democratic||Houston||1982||2018||Harris (part)|
|16||Don Huffines||Republican||Dallas||2014||2018||Dallas (part)|
|17||Joan Huffman||Republican||Southside Place||2008†||2018||Brazoria (part), Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)|
|18||Lois Kolkhorst||Republican||Katy||2014||2020||Aransas, Austin, Burleson, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend (part), Goliad, Gonzales, Harris (part), Jackson, Lee, Matagorda, Nueces (part), Re fugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington|
|19||Carlos Uresti||Democratic||San Antonio||2006||2020||Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Brewster, Crockett, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kinney, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Real, Reeves, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Zavala|
|20||Juan Hinojosa||Democratic||McAllen||2002||2020||Brooks, Hidalgo (part), Jim Wells, Nueces (part)|
|21||Judith Zaffirini||Democratic||Laredo||1986||2020||Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Bee, Caldwell, Duval, Guadalupe (part), Live Oak, Jim Hogg, Karnes, La Salle, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Travis (part), Uvalde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata|
|22||Brian Birdwell||Republican||Granbury||2010†||2020||Bosque, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood (part), Frio, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro, Somervell, Tarrant (part)|
|23||Royce West||Democratic||Dallas||1992||2018||Dallas (part)|
|24||Dawn Buckingham||Republican||Horseshoe Bay||2016||2020||Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Comanche, Coryell, Gillespie, Hamilton, Kerr, Lampasas, Llano, Mills, San Saba, Taylor (part), Travis(part)|
|25||Donna Campbell||Republican||New Braunfels||2012||2018||Bexar (part), Travis (part), Comal, Hays, Kendall|
|26||Jose Menendez||Democratic||San Antonio||2015†||2020||Bexar (part)|
|27||Eddie Lucio Jr.||Democratic||Brownsville||1990||2020||Cameron, Hidalgo (part), Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy|
|28||Charles Perry||Republican||Lubbock||2014†||2020||Baylor, Borden, Childress, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Eastland, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Hale, Hardeman, Haskell, Hockley, Irion, Jones, Kent, Kimble, King, Knox, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Mason, McColluch, Menard, Mitchell, Montague, Motley, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels, Sleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Wheeler, Wilbarger, Young|
|29||José R. Rodríguez||Democratic||El Paso||2010||2020||Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio|
|30||Craig Estes||Republican||Wichita Falls||2000||2018||Archer, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, Young|
|31||Kel Seliger||Republican||Amarillo||2004†||2018||Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Cochran, Collingsworth, Coke, Coleman, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hartley, Hemphill, Hansford, Howard, Hutchinson, Jones, Lipscomb, Loving, Lynn, Martin, Midland, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Wheeler, Winkler, Yoakum|
†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).
- Robert L. Duncan, State Senator from Lubbock, 1996-2014; Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System since 2014
- Chet Edwards, U.S. House of Representatives (1991–2011).
- James W. Flanagan, U.S. Senate (1870–1875).
- Glenn Hegar, current Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (2015-present).
- 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).
- Dan Patrick, current Lieutenant Governor of Texas (2015-present).
- Jerry E. Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office (2003-2015).
- Ken Paxton, current Attorney General of Texas (2015-present).
- Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Governor of Texas, (1887–1891).
- Joseph D. Sayers, Lieutenant Governor of Texas (1879–1881), U.S. House of Representatives (1885–1899), 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 (1875–1879, 1883–1887).
- 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 (1973–1997).
Past composition of the Senate
Main article: Political party strength in Texas
Legislatures of the United States
|United States Congress|
List of current U.S. state legislators
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / ESPAÑOL
Senate Committee on Business & Commerce
Committees · Hearings and Events · Committee Archives · Notice of Assistance · Legislature Online · Committee Assignments(PDF)
- Free Market Electricity: Examine the competitive nature of the Texas retail electric system and what government competitive intrusions in the free energy markets may have in distorting those markets. Review the impact of competitive versus noncompetitive retail electricity markets across the state in terms of price and reliability. Consider the projected impact of establishing competitive electric retail markets statewide.
- Health Insurance Market Stability: Study the factors affecting health insurance markets in Texas, particularly the individual market, including federal and state law. Make recommendations that would result in increased stability in the markets and enhance value and affordability for individual consumers and businesses. Examine what steps the state needs to take to allow out-of-state health insurance sales. In developing its recommendations, the committee should consider the flexibility afforded to states by 1332 "state innovation" waivers, which allow states to modify or eliminate tax penalties associated with individual and employer coverage mandates; modify requirements for benefits and subsidies; and find alternative ways to provide benefit plan choices, determine eligibility for subsidies, and enroll consumers.
- Licensing and Fees: Review licensing requirements and fees imposed on entities within the committee's jurisdiction. Make recommendations for state licenses and fees that should be reduced, repealed or transitioned to private-sector enforcement.
- Social Media Access: Study access issues regarding digital assets of decedents. Study social media privacy laws and whether job applicants and students' privacy is jeopardized under current law.
- Monitoring Charge: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce during the 85th Legislature, Regular Session, including:
- The implementation of legislation to deregulate occupational licensing;
- The settlement of out-of-network health benefit claims involving balance billing and patient's explanation of benefits statements; and
- Make recommendations regarding any additional legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation.
- Study infrastructure security and energy restoration post weather events. Identify ways state government entities can help utilities more effectively stage pre- hurricane mobilization crews for managing resources before an event.
- Examine state mortgage requirements regarding the notification of homebuyers on their need for flood insurance in flood plains and flood pool areas and make recommendations on how to better inform consumers.
- Examine local government regulations, including occupational licenses, as related to Hurricane Harvey and determine if any are a detriment to rebuilding efforts.
- Examine and make recommendations on the need for changes to the Texas Constitution for home equity lenders to offer various forms of relief to Texas homeowners affected by natural disasters including, among others, the authority to enter into deferment agreements. This examination should include a study of home equity rules regarding negotiation, modification and refinancing and whether constitutionally established time periods can be waived in times of disasters.
85th Session Interim
85th First Called Session
85th Regular Session
The following reports are available for download: