Skip to main content
TEXAS flag

An official website of the Texas government

About Us

Texas House of Representatives

The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members, each elected for a two-year term. The Texas Legislature meets in Regular Session for about five months every other year. Regular Sessions begin at noon on the second Tuesday in January of odd numbered years and can last no more than 140 days, ending during the last week of May or the first week of June. Special Sessions may be called by the Governor and can last up to 30 days.

Photo in the capitol build

A member of the house must be a citizen of the United States, must be a qualified elector of the state, and must be at least 21 years old. He or she must have been a resident of the state for two years immediately preceding election, and for one year immediately preceding election must have been a resident of the district from which he or she was chosen.

At the beginning of each Regular Session, the members of the House of Representatives elect one member to serve as the presiding officer--the Speaker of the House.

Location: The Texas Capitol is located on N. Congress Avenue between 11th and 15th Streets in downtown Austin.

( click for map)

Mailing Address:

  • Texas House of Representatives
  • P.O. Box 2910
  • Austin, Texas 78768-2910

This web site is maintained by Digital Media of the Texas House of Representatives. If you have any questions or comments about this site, you may contact the Web Administrator at

Capitol History

Located near the center of Austin, on the square originally selected as the site of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas, the State Capitol is more than just another building to Texans throughout the state: it represents a great part of our heritage. The Capitol is the result of the hard work of many individuals who had the wisdom and determination to see Texas stand proudly as a state in the Union.

Photo of the capitol build

The contract to construct the present Capitol was signed on January 1, 1882. A groundbreaking ceremony one month later, on February 1, 1882, signaled the start of construction. The cornerstone, which is located at the northeast corner of the Capitol, was laid on March 2, 1885. The Capitol was nearing completion when a dedication ceremony was held on May 16, 1888, and in September of that year, the building received its first occupants. The Capitol was officially completed on December 8, 1888, six years and ten months after construction began.

Designed by Detroit architect, E. E. Myers who also designed the Michigan and Colorado Capitols, the Texas Capitol covers three acres of ground with approximately 18 acres of floor space or 192,374 square feet of available office space. When completed in 1888, the building contained 392 rooms, 18 vaults, 924 windows, and 404 doors. Approximately 566 feet in length, 288 feet in width, and 308 feet from grade line to the top of the star on the Goddess of Liberty atop the dome, it is the largest of all state capitol buildings and is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. In fact, like several other state Capitol buildings, the Texas Capitol surpasses the National Capitol in height, rising seven feet above its Washington counterpart.

Photo of the capitol build hallway

The Capitol's exterior walls are Texas red granite from Burnet County, while the interior and dome walls are Texas limestone. The roof, encompassing 85,000 square feet, is made of copper. The original floors were hand-blocked clay tile, glass, and wood. In 1936, a new floor was installed on the first floor to commemorate the centennial of Texas Independence. This floor, which remains today, is of terrazzo--mostly Texas marble aggregate. Interior walls are adorned with nearly seven miles of wainscoting made of oak, pine, cherry, cedar, walnut, and mahogany. Door and window frames are constructed of oak or pine, except for those in the Governor's Reception Room, which are made of cherry.

The Capitol Extension, an underground addition to the main Capitol, is connected to the Capitol and four other state buildings by tunnels; it is considered to be a permanent part of the Capitol. The Extension opened to the public on January 11, 1993. The Capitol Extension contains skylights, known as light courts, which allow a large amount of natural light in the the building and provide spectacular views of the Capitol dome. Most of the office suites have windows which open onto the light court, further heightening the spaciousness of the offices. The Extension contains 16 committee

Information provided courtesy of the State Preservation Board

Capitol Restoration

Photo of the capitol build being built

A magnificent 19th century edifice, the Capitol today must also function as a modern workplace for state officials and their staffs. Over the years, the space needed for increased personnel and office equipment has greatly exceeded the building's original capacity, contributing to the acceleration of the normal deterioration due to the passage of time. The need to preserve this important cultural landmark from further deterioration prompted a 1988 proposal to renovate and reconstruct the Capitol. Funding was approved and, in 1990, groundbreaking for the project began under the guidance of the State Preservation Board and the Capitol architect.

One of the main objectives of the restoration project was to return the Capitol to its original 19th century grandeur. In planning this complex undertaking, care was taken to ensure that the building's original beauty was not altered. Thus, any visible above-grade addition to the historic structure was ruled out, as was any encroachment into the historic wooded grounds to the south, east, and west of the Capitol.

Office space to alleviate crowded conditions in the Capitol, as well as additional parking space, was created in an underground extension on the Capitol's north side. The extension features two skylit occupied levels and two parking levels.

The exterior Capitol restoration was completed in spring 1993. Removal and restoration of the 1888 wooden windows, cleaning and reappointing of the granite walls, and extensive repair of the metal dome and roof were the most critical activities of the exterior work. The exterior and interior restoration of the Italian Renaissance Revival style Capitol focused on the period 1888, when the construction was completed, to 1915 before major remodeling of the building began.

Restoring the interior of the Capitol to its original configuration has created new space in the offices and halls. Ceilings that had been lowered to conceal mechanical equipment or to add mezzanine offices have been restored to their original height. Walls were stripped and new wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and a fire-safety sprinkler system have been installed. Wooden braces and beams have been replaced, when possible, with metal, and plaster decorative moldings have been repaired. The many cast-iron columns were sandblasted, and everything has been repainted in the original colors.

Photo of the capitol build being built

State funding covered construction costs, associated fees, moving expenses, and limited funding for new furnishings. A Capitol Fund Drive is paying for historical furnishings and expenses necessary to restore significant areas to their original appearance.

The Texas Senate and House met for their regular 1995 session in the newly restored and renovated Capitol. The Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of the Senate, and other Senate staff members moved back in the Capitol on August 29, 1994. The Speaker of the House and the Chief Clerk's offices returned to the Capitol on December 9, 1994.

The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its "significant contribution to American history." With the restoration and preservation of the Capitol and the addition of the Extension, the Texas Legislature has a larger and more convenient new home with a future as outstanding as its past.

Information provided courtesy of Capitol Information and Guide Service

How a Bill Becomes a Law

The Legislative Branch of Government

The Texas Constitution divides state government into three separate but equal branches: the executive branch, headed by the governor; the judicial branch, which consists of the Texas Supreme Court and all state courts; and the legislative branch, headed by the Texas Legislature, which includes the 150 members of the house of representatives and the 31 members of the state senate.

Capitol Fireworks

Members of the house of representatives are elected to two-year terms and represent districts of about 113,000 people each. Senators serve four-year terms and serve about 550,000 people each.

The legislature meets every odd-numbered year to write new laws and to find solutions to the problems facing the state. This meeting time, which begins on the second Tuesday in January and lasts 140 days, is called the regular session. The governor can direct the legislature to meet at other times also. These meetings, called special sessions, can last no more than 30 days and deal only with issues chosen by the governor.

On the first day of each regular session, the 150 members of the house of representatives choose one of their members to be the speaker of the house. The speaker is the presiding officer of the house. He or she maintains order, recognizes members to speak during debate, and rules on procedural matters.

The speaker also appoints the chairs and vice chairs of the committees that study legislation and decides which other representatives will serve on those committees, subject to seniority rules. There are 31 committees, each of which deals with a different subject area, and five committees that deal with procedural or administrative matters for the house. Most members serve on two or three different committees.

In the senate, the presiding officer is the lieutenant governor, who is not actually a member of the senate. The lieutenant governor is the second-highest ranking officer of the executive branch of government and, like the governor, is chosen for a four-year term by popular vote in a statewide election.

The first thing that the speaker of the house and the lieutenant governor ask their respective houses of the legislature to do is to decide on the rules that the legislators will follow during the session. Some legislative procedures are provided for in the state constitution, but additional rules can be adopted by a house of the legislature if approved by a majority vote of its members.

Once rules have been adopted, the legislature begins to consider bills.

Introducing a Bill

A representative or senator gets an idea for a bill by listening to the people he or she represents and then working to solve their problem. A bill may also grow out of the recommendations of an interim committee study conducted when the legislature is not in session. The idea is researched to determine what state law needs to be changed or created to best solve that problem. A bill is then written by the legislator, often with legal assistance from the Texas Legislative Council, a legislative agency which provides bill drafting services, research assistance, computer support, and other services for legislators.

Once a bill has been written, it is introduced by a member of the house or senate in the member's own chamber. Sometimes, similar bills about a particular issue are introduced in both houses at the same time by a representative and senator working together. However, any bill increasing taxes or raising money for use by the state must start in the house of representatives.

House members and senators can introduce bills on any subject during the first 60 calendar days of a regular session. After 60 days, the introduction of any bill other than a local bill or a bill related to an emergency declared by the governor requires the consent of at least four-fifths of the members present and voting in the house or four-fifths of the membership in the senate.

Galss windows looking out at the capitol

The Committee Process

After a bill has been introduced, a short description of the bill, called a caption, is read aloud while the chamber is in session so that all of the members are aware of the bill and its subject. This is called the first reading, and it is the point in the process where the presiding officer assigns the bill to a committee. This assignment is announced on the chamber floor during the first reading of the bill.

The chair of each committee decides when the committee will meet and which bills will be considered. The house rules permit a house committee or subcommittee to meet: (1) in a public hearing where testimony is heard and where official action may be taken on bills, resolutions, or other matters; (2) in a formal meeting where the members may discuss and take official action without hearing public testimony; or (3) in a work session for discussion of matters before the committee without taking formal action. In the senate, testimony may be heard and official action may be taken at any meeting of a senate committee or subcommittee. Public testimony is almost always solicited on bills, allowing citizens the opportunity to present arguments on different sides of an issue.

A house committee or subcommittee holding a public hearing during a legislative session must post notice of the hearing at least five calendar days before the hearing during a regular session and at least 24 hours in advance during a special session. For a formal meeting or a work session, written notice must be posted and sent to each member of the committee two hours in advance of the meeting or an announcement must be filed with the journal clerk and read while the house is in session. A senate committee or subcommittee must post notice of a meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting.

After considering a bill, a committee may choose to take no action or may issue a report on the bill. The committee report, expressing the committee's recommendations regarding action on a bill, includes a record of the committee's vote on the report, the text of the bill as reported by the committee, a detailed bill analysis, and a fiscal note or other impact statement, as necessary. The report is then printed, and a copy is distributed to every member of the house or senate.

Floor Action

In the house, a copy of the committee report is sent to either the Committee on Calendars or the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars for placement on a calendar for consideration by the full house. In the senate, local and noncontroversial bills are scheduled for senate consideration by the Senate Administration Committee. All other bills in the senate are placed on the regular order of business for consideration by the full senate in the order in which the bills were reported from senate committee. A bill on the regular order of business may not be brought up for floor consideration unless the senate sponsor of the bill has filed a written notice of intent to suspend the regular order of business for consideration of the bill.

When a bill comes up for consideration by the full house or senate, it receives its second reading. The bill is read, again by caption only, and then debated by the full membership of the chamber. Any member may offer an amendment, but it must be approved by a majority of the members present and voting to be adopted. The members then vote on whether to pass the bill. The bill is then considered by the full body again on third reading and final passage. A bill may be amended again on third reading, but amendments at this stage require a two-thirds majority for adoption. Although the Texas Constitution requires a bill to be read on three separate days in each house before it can have the force of law, this constitutional rule may be suspended by a four-fifths vote of the house in which the bill is pending. The senate routinely suspends this constitutional provision in order to give a bill an immediate third reading after its second reading consideration. The house, however, rarely suspends this provision, and third reading of a bill in the house normally occurs on the day following its second reading consideration.

In either house, a bill may be passed on a voice vote or a record vote. In the house, record votes are tallied by an electronic vote board controlled by buttons on each member's desk. In the senate, record votes are taken by calling the roll of the members.

Action on the Other House's Amendments and Conference Committees

Battle Flag

If a bill receives a majority vote on third reading, it is considered passed. When a bill is passed in the house where it originated, the bill is engrossed, and a new copy of the bill which incorporates all corrections and amendments is prepared and sent to the opposite chamber for consideration. In the second house, the bill follows basically the same steps it followed in the first house. When the bill is passed in the opposite house, it is returned to the originating chamber with any amendments that have been adopted simply attached to the bill.

If a bill is returned to the originating chamber with amendments, the originating chamber can either agree to the amendments or request a conference committee to work out differences between the house version and the senate version. If the amendments are agreed to, the bill is put in final form, signed by the presiding officers, and sent to the governor.

Governor's Action

Conference committees are composed of five members from each house appointed by the presiding officers. Once the conference committee reaches agreement, a conference committee report is prepared and must be approved by at least three of the five conferees from each house. Conference committee reports are voted on in each house and must be approved or rejected without amendment. If approved by both houses, the bill is signed by the presiding officers and sent to the governor.

Battle Flag

Constitutional Amendments

Upon receiving a bill, the governor has 10 days in which to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature. If the governor vetoes the bill and the legislature is still in session, the bill is returned to the house in which it originated with an explanation of the governor's objections. A two-thirds majority in each house is required to override the veto. If the governor neither vetoes nor signs the bill within 10 days, the bill becomes a law. If a bill is sent to the governor within 10 days of final adjournment, the governor has until 20 days after final adjournment to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature.

State of Texas Flag

History of the Texas Flag

Texas State Flag

Proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution are in the form of joint resolutions instead of bills and require a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership in each house for adoption. Joint resolutions are not sent to the governor for approval, but are filed directly with the secretary of state. A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Texas Constitution does not become effective until it is approved by Texas voters in a general election.

The official flag of Texas was adopted in session by the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas in Houston, January 25, 1839, on motion of William H. Wharton, Oliver Jones and others. It specified that the flag should consist of "a blue perpendicular stripe of the width of one-third of the whole length of the flag and a white star of five points in the center thereof and two horizontal stripes of equal length and breadth, the upper stripe of white, the lower of red, of the length of two thirds of the length of the whole flag." There was no other specification of the Flag of Texas until a statute was passed by the Forty-Third Legislature (Acts of 1933, p. 186, ch. 87) clarifying but not changing the original description given here. The statute did add specifications, however, one being that the star, from topmost to lowest points, shall be approximately one-third the depth of the blue field.

Colors in the flags of both the United States and Texas mean red for courage, white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty. The committee, headed by Oliver Jones, which wrote the recommendations in 1839 for the present Lone Star Flag, specified that the meanings should be white for peace, red for war, and blue for friendship. However, this part of the recommendation was not adopted by the Texas Congress, and the meanings of the colors in the national and state flags are commonly accepted as being identical.

The Texas flag is the only flag of an American State having previously served as a flag of a recognized independent country.

Texas State Flag

The Lone Star Flag described above was not the first official flag of the Republic of Texas. A flag consisting of a blue field with a large central gold star was adopted by the first Texas Congress, December 10, 1836. The design was suggested by President David G. Burnet and it is sometimes called the "Burnet flag." It was the flag of the Republic from 1836-1839. At the same time, the Congress adopted a Texas Navy flag which had been officially recognized as early as April 9, 1836, by President Burnet. This flag, described in Brown's History, was composed of "union, blue star central, with thirteen prolonged stripes, alternate red and white." It was like the United States flag except there was a single star on the blue field. There is also record of a convention-adopted flag in May, 1836, by a committee of five including Lorenzo de Zavala. This flag, consisting of a blue field and a white star with the letters T-E-X-A-S between points of the star, seems not to have been given more than momentary official recognition.

Many flags have flown over Texas with varying degrees of sovereign authority and of these, six are most widely mentioned in the history of Texas. They are the sovereign flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Southern Confederacy, and the United States. The above flags are in one classification, a second classification included a large number of flags flown by various military units during the Texas Revolution prior to adoption of the Lone Star Flag officially in 1839, and a third classification of flags is recognized during the turbulent period of 1811-1821 when several attempts were made to free Texas from Spanish rule, following the failure of the Hidalgo revolt in Mexico.

The Spanish flag - the red cross of St. Andrew on a white field - was flown from 1519, when Piñeda explored the Texas coast, until 1668 and again from 1707 until 1785. Sometime between 1668 and 1707--the colors were reversed - the white cross on the red field. Either color arrangement might be used appropriately in a group of the six flags, although the white field with the red cross was in use longer. The cross of St. Andrew was also called the cross of Bourgogne since St. Andrew was patron saint of the feudal lords of Bourgogne. The French flag was a white cross with scattered golden fleurs-de-lis, planted on Texas soil by LaSalle, according to most authorities. Although used by LaSalle as the personal flag of the King, it was not properly the national emblem.

The Mexican flag is a tri-color of green (next to staff), white (center), and red. On the white field is the coat-of-arms of Mexico: the eagle above the cactus with a serpent in its beak. The flag of the 1821 era is sometimes represented with the coat-of-arms enclosed by a wreath of laurel and oak.

Three different flags were adopted by the southern Confederacy. The first one, the Stars and Bars, is best known, and consists of a blue field in the upper corner, next to the staff, with white stars in a circular position and three stripes (bars), two of red and one of white. Probably this flag should be given preference in the group of six flags. The battle flag of the Confederacy - red field with blue cross and white stars -is often used.

Capitol with Texas State Flag

Rules Governing the Use of the Texas Flag

Many different banners were raised in revolt against Mexico, largely flags of individual military units. Prior to the Revolution, a number of independent flags were flown over Texas. During the era of filibusters and revolts against Spain from 1811 to 1821, the flags of Louis Aury and Jean Lafitte, privateers, were flown at Galveston. Dr. James Long from Mississippi hoisted a flag of red and white stripes with a red field and a white star in 1819. Possibly this was the very first "lone star" flag.

When the Texas Flag is displayed out-of-doors, it must be on either a flagpole or a staff, and the staff should be at least two and one-half times as long as the Flag. The Flag is always attached at the spearhead end of the staff, and the heading must be made of material strong enough to protect the Colors.

The Texas Flag should not be unfurled out-of-doors earlier than sunrise and it should be taken down, or furled, not later than sunset. Of course the Flag may be flown for any length of time between sunrise and sunset, as may be directed by proper authority.

It is disrespectful to the Texas Flag to leave it unfurled in inclement weather, such as rain, sleet, snow, hail or storm, and it should never be left out-of-doors at night.

The Texas Flag should be displayed on all State Memorial Days and on special occasions of historical significance.

Every school in Texas should fly the Texas Flag on all regular school days. This courtesy is due to the Lone Star Flag of Texas.

The Texas Flag should always be hoisted briskly, and unfurled slowly with appropriate ceremonies.

The Texas Flag should not be fastened in such a manner that it can be torn easily.

When the Texas Flag is flown from a flagpole or staff, the white stripe should always be at the top of the Flag, except in cases of distress, and the red stripe should be directly underneath the white.

The Texas Flag should be on the marching left when it is carried in a procession in which the Flag of the United States of America is unfurled.

The Texas Flag should be on the left of the Flag of the United States of America, and its staff should be behind the staff of the National Colors, when the two are displayed against a wall from crossed staffs.

When the Texas Flag is flown from the same halyard as the Flag of the United States of America is flown, it must be underneath our National Colors.

When the Texas Flag is flown on a flagpole adjacent to the flagpole on which the Flag of the United States of America is flown, it must be unfurled after our National Colors, and it must be displayed at the left of the Flag of the United States of America.

When the Texas Flag and the Flag of the United States of America are displayed at the same time, they should be flown on separate flagpoles of equal length, and the Flags should be approximately the same size.

When the Texas Flag is flown from a window-sill, balcony or front of a building, and flat against the wall, it should be on a staff, and the blue field should be at the observer's left.

When the Texas Flag and the Flag of the United States of America are displayed on a speaker's platform at the same time, the Texas Flag should be on the left side of the speaker, while our National Colors are on the right side of the speaker.

The Texas Flag should never be used to cover a platform or speaker's desk, nor to drape over the front of a speaker's platform.

When the Texas Flag is displayed flat on the wall of a platform, it should be above the speaker, and the blue field must always be at the Flag's right.

When the Texas Flag is displayed on a motor car, the staff should be fastened firmly to the chassis of the car, or clamped firmly to the hood.

Texas State Flag

When the Texas Flag is displayed on a motor car, the staff should be fastened firmly to the chassis of the car, or clamped firmly to the hood.

When the Texas Flag is displayed on a float in a parade, it should always be attached securely to a staff.

The Texas Flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of any vehicle, or of a railroad train, boat or airplane.

The Texas Flag should not be used as any portion of a costume or athletic uniform.

The Texas Flag should not be embroidered upon cushions or handkerchiefs, nor printed on paper napkins or boxes.

The Texas Flag must not be treated disrespectfully by having printing or lettering of any kind placed upon it.

The Texas Flag should not be used in any form of advertising, and under no circumstances may advertisements of any kind be attached to the flagpole or staff.

It is disrespectful to the Texas Flag to use it for purposes of decoration, either over the middle of streets, or as a covering for automobiles or floats in a parade or for draping speakers' platforms or stands, or for any other similar purpose of decoration. For such purposes of decoration the colors of the Flag may be used in bunting or other cloth.

The Texas Flag should not be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free, as it is carried in a parade.

The Texas Flag is flown at half-mast by first raising it to the top of the flagpole, and then slowly lowering it to a position one-fourth of the distance down the flagpole, and there it should stay during the time it is to be displayed, observing the rule, of course, that it must not be raised before sunrise and it must be taken down each day before sunset. In taking the Flag down, it should first be raised to the top of the flagpole, and then slowly lowered with appropriate ceremony.

The Texas Flag should not be displayed, used, nor stored in such a manner that it can be easily soiled or otherwise damaged.

When the Texas Flag is in such condition of repair that it is no longer a suitable emblem for displaying, it should be totally destroyed preferably by burning, and that privately; or this should be done by some other method in keeping with the spirit of respect and reverence which all Texans owe the Emblem which represents the Lone Star State of Texas.

Honor the Texas Flag:

  • I pledge allegiance to thee
  • Texas, one state under God
  • one and indivisible.

Legislative Glossary

Legislative Glossary