THLN Legislation 101

What is the Texas Legislature?

The Texas Legislature is bicameral (a legislative body having two branches or chambers), includes 150 members of the House of Representatives and 31 members of the State Senate.  Members of the House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms and represent districts of approximately 113,000 people each.  Senators serve four-year terms and approximately 550,000 people each.

- The House of Representatives is presided over by the Speaker of the House, elected by the Representatives.

- The Lieutenant Governor, presides over the Senate, elected by the people. 

The governor has veto power over bills passed by the legislature, as well as line-item veto power over the budget. Additionally, the governor can call short, special sessions of the legislature to address specific issues in an agenda that the executive sets.

How often does the Legislature meet?

Unique as a part-time legislature, both the Senate and House of the Texas Legislature meet every other odd numbered year.  A regular session is 140 days in length, beginning on the second Tuesday in January. A special session can last no more than 30 days and is called by the governor to address specific issues. Meetings determine what bills will become law to help citizens better face new issues that continually arise. 

How does a bill become law in Texas?

Each bill starts off as either a house bill or a senate bill, sometimes even both (to increase the chances of getting a bill passed).  A bill must go through introduction, committee action, and floor action in order to move on to the other house.  Once a bill has passed through all three actions in both the House and the Senate, the bill is passed to the enrollment phase i.e. The Governor’s Desk to be signed and become law or vetoed.

Ensure your representative understands the value, impact and humane treatment of animals in your community as well as their legislative districts.  Knowing who represents you is a vital step to communicating this message. 

Locate your state and/or federal representative here.