Texas Senate

Last updated

Texas Senate
Texas State Legislature
Seal of State Senate of Texas.svg
Term limits
New session started
January 8, 2019
President of the Senate
Dan Patrick (R)
since January 20, 2015
President Pro Tempore
Joan Huffman (R)
since May 27, 2019
86th Texas Senate.svg
Political groups


Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 3, Texas Constitution
Salary$7,200/year + per diem
Last election
November 6, 2018
(15 seats)
Next election
November 3, 2020
(16 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Texas State Capitol
Austin, Texas
Texas State Senate
Inside view of the Texas Senate Another view of the Texas State Senate IMG 6320.JPG
Inside view of the Texas Senate

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 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. In the case of the latter, they or their successors will be up for two-year terms in the next year that ends in 0. 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 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. [1] [2]

An upper house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house. The house formally designated as the upper house is usually smaller and often has more restricted power than the lower house. Examples of upper houses in countries include the Australian Senate, Brazil's Senado Federal, the Canadian Senate, France's Sénat, Germany's Bundesrat, India's Rajya Sabha, Ireland's Seanad, Malaysia's Dewan Negara, Myanmar's Amyotha Hluttaw, the Netherlands' Eerste Kamer, Pakistan's Senate of Pakistan, Russia's Federation Council, Switzerland's Council of States, United Kingdom's House of Lords and the United States Senate.

Texas Legislature State legislature of the US state of Texas

The Texas Legislature is the state legislature of the US state of Texas. It is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.



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.

Lieutenant Governor of Texas position

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the U.S. It is the second most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

President of the Senate is a title often given to the presiding officer of a senate. It corresponds to the speaker in some other assemblies.

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.

State legislature (United States) legislature of a U.S. state

A state legislature in the United States is the legislative body of any of the 50 U.S. states. The formal name varies from state to state. In 25 states, the legislature is simply called the Legislature, or the State Legislature, while in 19 states, the legislature is called the General Assembly. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the legislature is called the General Court, while North Dakota and Oregon designate the legislature the Legislative Assembly.

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.

Brian D. Birdwell is an American politician. A Republican, he has represented District 22 in the Texas Senate since 2010. A retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Birdwell is a decorated survivor of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on September 11, 2001.

Granbury, Texas City in Texas, United States

Granbury is a city and the county seat of Hood County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,978 and is the principal city of the Granbury Micropolitan Statistical Area. Granbury is located 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Fort Worth, Texas.

José R. Rodríguez is an American attorney and politician. He is currently serving as a Democratic member of the Texas State Senate representing District 29 in El Paso, Texas.

For the 83rd Legislative Session, which began in 2013, there were six new senators, including Sylvia Garcia, who succeeded the late senator Mario Gallegos Jr. 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 Governor Dan Patrick. The President Pro Tempore is Republican Kel Seliger of District 31 (Amarillo). 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.

Sylvia Garcia American politician

Sylvia Rodriguez Garcia is an American politician who has been serving as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 29th congressional district since 2019. Her district covers much of eastern Houston. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously represented District 6 in the Texas Senate.

Mario Gallegos Jr. Houston, Texas politician

Mario Valentin Gallegos Jr. was a Democratic politician in the U.S. state of Texas. He was the senator from District 6 in the Texas Senate, which serves a portion of Harris County.

Charles J. Schwertner is an American orthopedic surgeon and politician from Georgetown, Texas. He has served in the Texas State Senate since November 6, 2012, after having represented House District 20 in the Texas House of Representatives for a single term beginning in January 2011. He is a Republican.

New senators elected in 2014 included Bob Hall, Paul Bettencourt, Van Taylor, Don Huffines, and Konni Burton, all Republicans.

Paul David Bettencourt, is an American politician and businessman based out of Houston, Texas, who serves as a Republican member of the Texas State Senate from District 7. On January 13, 2015, he succeeded state Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, who successfully ran for Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

Van Taylor American politician

Nicholas Van Campen Taylor, known as Van Taylor, is an American businessman and politician from Plano, Texas. He is the U.S. Representative for Texas' 3rd congressional district. The district includes much of Collin County, an affluent suburban county north of Dallas.

Don Huffines American politician

Donald Blaine Huffines is a former Republican member of the Texas Senate, where he represented District 16 from 2015 to 2019.

New senators elected in 2016 were Bryan Hughes (R), Borris Miles (D), and Dawn Buckingham (R). [3]

Pete Flores (R) joined the Texas Senate through a special election in 2018. [4]

New senators elected in the 2018 regular election included Angela Paxton (R), Beverly Powell (D), Nathan Johnson (D), and Pat Fallon (R). [5]

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, won the Senate District 6 special election on December 11, 2018, to replace Sylvia Garcia, who resigned after she won a seat in the United States House of Representatives in the regular election. [6]


Lieutenant Governor/President of the Senate Dan Patrick Republican Houston
President Pro Tempore Joan Huffman Republican Houston 17



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 Ds. and finally the Texas Eleven in August 2003, who were following the example of the Texas house Killer Ds. [7]

Committee structure

The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 86th Legislature.

In addition, the House and Senate operate the permanent joint committee known as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

Current composition

(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Democratic Vacant
Begin 2013 [8] 1911301
March 3, 2013 [9] 12310
Begin 20152011310
Begin 20172011310
End 20182110310
Begin 20191912310
Latest voting share61.3%38.7%
Senate Districts and Party Affiliation as of 2019 Republican Party Democratic Party TxSen2018Comp.svg
Senate Districts and Party Affiliation as of 2019      Republican Party     Democratic Party

List of members

County(ies) represented
1 Bryan Hughes Republican Mineola 20162020 Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Wood, Upshur
2 Bob Hall Republican Edgewood 20142022 Dallas (part), Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, Van Zandt
3 Robert Nichols Republican Jacksonville 20062022 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 20122022 Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, Williamson
6 Carol Alvarado Democratic Houston 2018†2020Harris (part)
7 Paul Bettencourt Republican Houston 20142022Harris (part)
8 Angela Paxton Republican Plano 20182022 Collin (part), Dallas (part)
9 Kelly Hancock Republican Fort Worth 20122022Dallas (part), Tarrant (part)
10 Beverly Powell Democratic Fort Worth 20182022Tarrant (part)
11 Larry Taylor Republican Friendswood 20122020 Brazoria (part), Galveston (part), Harris (part)
12 Jane Nelson Republican Flower Mound 19922020 Denton (part), Tarrant (part)
13 Borris Miles Democratic Houston 20162020 Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
14 Kirk Watson Democratic Austin 20062022 Bastrop, Travis (part)
15 John Whitmire Democratic Houston 19822022Harris (part)
16 Nathan Johnson Democratic Dallas 20182022Dallas (part)
17 Joan Huffman Republican Southside Place 2008†2022Brazoria (part), Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
18 Lois Kolkhorst Republican Katy 20142020 Aransas, Austin, Burleson, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend (part), Goliad, Gonzales, Harris (part), Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Nueces (part), Refugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington, Wharton
19 Pete Flores Republican Pleasanton 2018†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 20022020 Brooks, Hidalgo (part), Jim Wells, Nueces (part)
21 Judith Zaffirini Democratic Laredo 19862020Atascosa (part), Bee, Bexar (part), Caldwell, Duval, Guadalupe (part), Hays (part), Jim Hogg, Karnes, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Travis (part), Webb, Wilson, Zapata
22 Brian Birdwell Republican Granbury 2010†2020 Bosque, Ellis, Falls, Frio, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro, Somervell, Tarrant (part)
23 Royce West Democratic Dallas 19922022Dallas (part)
24 Dawn Buckingham Republican Horseshoe Bay 20162020 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 20122022Bexar (part), Comal, Guadalupe (part) Hays (part), Kendall, Travis (part)
26 Jose Menendez Democratic San Antonio 2015†2020Bexar (part)
27 Eddie Lucio Jr. Democratic Brownsville 19902020 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, Motley, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels, Sleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Taylor (part), Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Wilbarger
29 José R. Rodríguez Democratic El Paso 20102020 Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio
30 Pat Fallon Republican Prosper 20182022 Archer, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, Young
31 Kel Seliger Republican Amarillo 2004†2022 Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Cochran, Collingsworth, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Howard, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Loving, Martin, Midland, Moore, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Wheeler, Winkler, Yoakum

†Elected in a special election

Notable past members

Past composition of the Senate

See also

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  1. McGuinness, Dylan. Flores defeats Gallego in Senate District 19, San Antonio Express-News, September 19, 2018.
  2. Svitek, Patrick. Republican Pete Flores upsets Democrat Pete Gallego in race for Uresti seat, Texas Tribune , September 18, 2018.
  3. 2016 Texas Elections, Texas Senate, Texas Tribune, 2016.
  4. Texas Senate Members
  5. Results of the Texas 2018 midterm election, Texas Tribune, November 6, 2018.
  6. Scherer, Jasper. Alvarado wins Senate District 6 special election, December 11, 2018
  7. Fikac, Peggy, August 21, 2003, Senators' 1870 walkout also drew GOP's wrath Reconstruction-era tiff led to arrests and one expulsion, San Antonio Express-News
  8. Democrat Mario Gallegos, Jr. (District 6) died October 16 and was reelected posthumously.
  9. Democrat Sylvia Garcia elected to succeed Gallegos

Coordinates: 30°16′28″N97°44′24″W / 30.274537°N 97.739906°W / 30.274537; -97.739906