TX Votes' Civic Notes: March 9

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Upcoming Events

Texas Senate Redistricting Committee Virtual Testimony on March 11th @ 9 AM - focused on the Austin Area* [Register here to testify at the hearing]

Texas Senate Redistricting Committee Virtual Testimony on March 13th @ 9 AM - open to testimony from any region in Texas [Register here to testify at the hearing]

*Though this regional hearing is focused on Austin, testimony about any region is welcome.

Voting Deadlines

Thursday, April 1, 2021 - Last Day to Register to Vote

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - Last Day for County to Receive Absentee Ballot Application (RECEIVED, not Postmarked)

Monday, April 19, 2021 - First Day of Early Voting

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - Last Day of Early Voting

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Election Day 

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Last Day for County to Receive Ballot by Mail (by 7 pm)

The Texas Legislature

By Elise Andres

The Texas State Legislature is made up of a 31 member Senate and 150 member House of Representatives. The legislature meets here in Austin, Texas at the state capital building downtown. Every other year, the legislature meets during Regular Session for approximately five months. Regular Sessions begin on the second Tuesday in January of odd number years and typically last no more than 140 days. The session ends during the last week of May, or the first week of June. The Governor is also capable of calling a Special Session which may last up to 30 days.

The Texas State Legislature is bicameral, meaning there are two branches: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Representatives serve two-year terms, whereas Senate members serve four-year terms. In order to be a Texas State Representative, you must be at least 21 years old, a Texas resident for two years, and a resident of their district for one year. To be elected as a Texas Senator, you must be at least 26 years old, a Texas resident for five years, and a resident of their district for one year. Senators represent a large number of constituents and in contrast, house members represent a smaller number of constituents. This allows for house members to work more closely with their constituents and be more aware of their concerns and requests.

 At the beginning of each Regular Session, the Speaker of the House is elected by members of the House of Representatives to serve as the presiding officer. The Speaker of the House for this session is Dade Phelan. The Speaker of the House maintains order during floor debates, signs bills passed by the legislature, and votes on all questions before the other members of the House. In addition, they oversee and elect members to each standing committee. 

The leader of the Senate also known as the President of the Senate is the Texas Lieutenant Governor, who is elected to their position. This session, the President of the Senate is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

There are four types of committees in the legislature. These include standing, special, joint, and conference. However, most of the work done in the legislature is within the standing committee. Bills are passed through the standing committee before being approved by the senate and house. Bills can be laws being enacted, amended, or repealed by a legislature. It takes up to 90 days for any bill to be passed by the Texas State Legislature unless two-thirds of each house votes for it to be effective immediately or early.  

After the most recent 2020 election cycle, the Texas House of Representatives is composed of 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, giving the Republican Party a house majority. The State Senate favors the Republicans as well with a 18-13 split between the two parties.

You can find out who makes up the House of Representatives here. Here is the contact information of the Texas State Senators. In addition, if you are interested in the House bills being passed, click here. On this page, you can search for specific bills being worked on and their current status. Lastly, to see when committees are meeting and when bills are scheduled for debate in the House, click here. You can find the Texas Senate’s agenda here.

TX Legislature Resources

A Beginner’s Guide To The Texas Legislature

Austin Tech Alliance’s TX Lege Glossary: #txlege terms you should know!

Here's what you should know heading into the 2021 Texas legislative session

Interesting Articles

Here are some interesting articles and news stories we found over the last two weeks! TX Votes is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing voting and civic engagement information, and our only goal with this section of our newsletter is to share a few interesting articles and news about Texas and its politics! We encourage you to read multiple sources and a variety of viewpoints to ensure you are well informed.


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