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The Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature - Texas Legislature Lawmakers Make...

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1 Texas Legislature Lawmakers Make laws that affect life, liberty and property Laws determine how conflicts will be resolved and what public services will be funded Salary $600/month Tend to be easy influenced by lobbyists Strong opposition to raising salaries Most Texans can’t name their senator or representative A preliminary View Lawmaking is slow and frustrating, often disappointing Texans dissatisfied with compromises Lawmakers often get in shouting matches, whistle, prank, and sleep during sessions Most Texans are critical of their legislatures
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2 Legislative Framework Lawmakers elected by the people in representative and senatorial districts Texas, like 49 other states, uses a bicameral lawmaking body to enact bills and adopt resolutions. Composition - the smaller chamber in Texas is the Senate (n=31); the larger is the house (n=150) Election and Terms of Office - Representatives serve two-year terms and senators four-year terms, each beginning in January of odd-numbered years. Senators draw slots from 31 piece of paper; odd numbers are elected for 4 years and even are elected for two years Legislative Framework Sessions - A regular session of the legislature is held in every odd-numbered year and last for a maximum of 140 days. Special sessions, which are called by the governor, can last up to 30 days. Only the governor can determine the agenda Limited sessions reflect the people’s distrust in their legislative body. Legislative Framework cont. Districting involves dividing the state into districts with equal population. Redistricting - Reflective of population changes, redistricting is supposed to occur immediately after the decennial census. Because it is a painful process for legislators, prior to 1950, the legislature sometimes failed to redivide the states into new districts. Legislative Redistricting Board Federal Intervention Senatorial Districts Representative Districts
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3 Compensation Compensation- Legislative salaries are relatively low because voters must approve any increase. $7200/yr plus $124 daily per diem while in service Use campaign funds for luxury cars, unidentified credit card expenses, unspecified gifts, unitemized travel, club and association dues, attorney fees Ethics Commission does not check financial reports House operating accounts credited $10,750 monthly (travel, postage, staffing) Senate operating accounts credited $32,000 monthly 8% salaries for retirement pensions Membership The legal qualifications for membership do not exclude many viable candidates. However, election opportunities tend to be restricted. Qualifications of Members - House Members must be U.S. citizens, qualified Texas voters, residents of their district for one year of the state for two years, and at least 21 years of age. Senate members must be U.S. citizens, qualified Texas voters, residents of their district for one year of the state for five years, and at least 26 years of age.
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