The speaker is the presiding officer of the house of representatives. The Texas Constitution requires the house of representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as speaker.
As presiding officer, the speaker maintains order during floor debate, recognizing legislators who wish to speak and ruling on procedural matters. The constitution also requires the speaker to sign all bills and joint resolutions passed by the legislature. As a member of the house of representatives, the speaker may vote on all questions before the house.
The other duties and responsibilities of the speaker are determined by the members of the house in the House Rules of Procedure, which are adopted by a majority vote of the members at the beginning of each regular session of the legislature. The members give the speaker the authority to appoint the membership of each standing committee, subject to rules on seniority, and to designate the chair and vice chair for each committee. Under the rules, the speaker is responsible for referring all proposed legislation to committee, subject to the committee jurisdictions set forth in the rules. The rules also allow the speaker to appoint conference committees, to create select committees, and to direct committees to conduct interim studies when the legislature is not in session.