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What does the Texas House of Representatives do?

The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members, each elected for a two-year term. 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.

The house of representatives elects one of its own members as presiding officer--the speaker of the house. The house creates and enforces its own rules and judges the qualifications of its members.

The house of representatives, together with the state senate, constitute the Texas Legislature. The duties of the legislature include consideration of proposed laws and resolutions, consideration of proposed constitutional amendments for submission to the voters, and appropriation of all funds for the operation of state government. All bills for raising revenue considered by the legislature must originate in the house of representatives. The house alone can bring impeachment charges against a statewide officer, which charges must be tried by the senate.

What is the legislative process?

In Texas, as in the Congress and most other states, the lawmaking process involves four major stages: introduction, committee action, floor action, and enrollment. In a bicameral legislature like Texas', with both a house and a senate, the first three stages must occur in each of the houses consecutively. After the house in which the bill is introduced completes action on the measure, the bill is sent to the second house, where the process is repeated through the three stages. The fourth stage, enrollment, occurs in the originating house after both houses have agreed on the final form of the proposal. See How a Bill Becomes a Law.

What does the speaker of the house do?

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.

How often does the legislature meet?

The Legislature of the State of Texas, operating under the biennial system, convenes its regular sessions at noon on the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years. The maximum duration of a regular session is 140 days. The governor is given authority under the state constitution to convene the legislature at other times during the biennium. Such sessions are known as called or special sessions and are reserved for legislation that the governor deems critically important in the conduct of state affairs. Called sessions are limited to a period of 30 days, during which the legislature is permitted to pass laws only on subjects submitted by the governor in calling for the session.

How does the house differ from the senate?

There are 150 members of the house of representatives as opposed to 31 members of the senate. According to the most recent census figures, the ideal house district population is 194,303 as opposed to an ideal population of 940,178 for each senate district. Senators serve four-year terms and represent a relatively large number of constituents, whereas house members serve two-year terms and represent a smaller number of constituents. House members are therefore able to remain more closely in tune to the needs and concerns of their constituents. For this reason, the state constitution requires that all bills increasing taxes or raising revenue for use by the state originate in the house of representatives.

How do I send an e-mail to my representative?

Go to your representative's page and click on Send Email to bring up a response form. Here's an alphabetical list of members. Note: Not all members use e-mail.

How do I find a list of all members' phone numbers and addresses?

Here is a list of House directories.

How do I find bills on a subject I'm interested in?

Go to Bill Search and choose a recent legislative session to get a list of subjects. You can also search for bills by a representative's name, by committee, or by a word or phrase in the text of the bill.

How do I find the status of a specific bill?

If you know the bill number, you can go to Bill Information and select "Actions" to get a detailed history of all action taken on the bill.

How do I find out how my representative voted on a bill?

The results of recorded votes are listed in the House Journal. You need to know the date the vote was taken and the Record Vote number, which you can find in Bill Information. The list of actions will give you the date of any record votes on the bill as well as the record vote number (RV#__) and the page number in the House Journal where the vote results are listed.

How do I find when committees are meeting and see their meeting agendas?

From the menu on the left, click on Schedules and then select committee schedules. This will give you a list of all House committee meetings for the week ahead. To see the agenda for a specific meeting, click on the word "Notice" to see the public notice that was issued for the meeting. From that page, you can search for meetings by committee and date.

How do I find what bills are scheduled for debate in the House?

The schedule of bills to be considered by the full House is called the House Calendar. To see a calendar for a day when the House is in session, click on Schedules on the menu on the left and select House Calendars. This will give you a list of all calendars that have been set for House action. Click here for an explanation of House Calendars.