Texas Senate

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Texas Senate
Texas State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 10, 2017
President of the Senate
Dan Patrick (R)
Since January 20, 2015
President Pro Tempore
Kel Seliger (R)
Since January 13, 2017
Texas Senate 9-18-18.svg
Political groups


Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle 3, Texas Constitution
Salary$7,200/year + per diem
Last election
November 6, 2018
(15 seats)
Next election
November 3, 2020
(16 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative Control
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
Texas State Capitol
Austin, Texas
Texas State Senate
Inside view of the Texas Senate

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas State Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing single-member districts across the U.S. state of Texas, with populations of approximately 806,000 per constituency, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. Elections are held in even-numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In elections in years ending in 2, all seats are up for election. Half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. In the case of the latter, they or their successors will be up for two-year terms in the next year that ends in 0. As such, in other elections, about half of the Texas Senate is on the ballot. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 21 Republicans and 10 Democrats, as of September 18, 2018. It the first time the Senate has had 21 Republican senators in the history of Texas.[1][2]


The Lieutenant Governor of Texas serves as the President of the Senate. Unlike most lieutenant governors who are constitutionally designated as presiding officers of the upper house, the Lieutenant Governor regularly exercises this function. The Lieutenant Governor's duties include appointing chairs of committees, committee members, assigning and referring bills to specific committees, recognizing members during debate, and making procedural rulings. The Lieutenant Governor may also cast a vote should a Senate floor vote end in a tie. If the Senate votes to dissolve itself into the Committee of the Whole, in which all members are part of the Committee, the President Pro-Tempore presides over the proceedings, with the Lieutenant Governor acting as a regular voting member. Due to the various powers of committee selection and bill assignment, the Lieutenant Governor is considered one of the most powerful lieutenant governorships in the United States.

Unlike other state legislatures, the Texas Senate does not include majority or minority leaders. Instead, the President Pro Tempore is considered the second most powerful position, and can be reserved to any political party in the chamber regardless if the party is a majority or not. Presidents Pro Tempore are usually the most senior members of the Senate. The President Pro Tempore presides when the Lieutenant Governor is not present or when the legislature is not in regular session.

For the 82nd Legislative Session, which began in 2011, there were only two new, or freshman, senators, Brian Birdwell, a Republican from Granbury, and José R. Rodríguez, a Democrat from El Paso.

For the 83rd Legislative Session, which began in 2013, there were six new senators, including Sylvia Garcia, who succeeded the late senator Mario Gallegos Jr. through a special election. The five other new senators were Charles Schwertner, a Republican from Georgetown, Ken Paxton, a Republican from McKinney, Kelly Hancock, a Republican from Fort Worth, Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood, and Donna Campbell, a Republican from New Braunfels. For this term of the Legislature the President of the Senate is Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The President Pro Tempore is Republican Kel Seliger of District 31 (Amarillo). Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, is the Dean of the Senate, meaning he is the most senior member, having served since 1987. Senator Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, is the most senior member of his party, and the fourth most-senior overall member.

New senators elected in 2014 are Bob Hall, Paul Bettencourt, Van Taylor, Don Huffines, and Konni Burton, all Republicans.

New senators elected in 2016 were Bryan Hughes(R), Borris Miles(D), and Dawn Buckingham(R).[3]

Pete Flores(R) joined the Texas Senate through a special election in 2018.[4]

New senators elected in the 2018 regular election are Angela Paxton(R), Beverly Powell(D), Nathan Johnson(D), and Pat Fallon(R).[5]

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, won the Senate District 6 special election on December 11, 2018 to replace Sylvia Garcia who resigned after she won a seat in the United States House of Representatives in the regular election.[6]


Position Name Party Residence District
Lieutenant Governor/President of the Senate Dan Patrick Republican Houston
President Pro Tempore Kel Seliger Republican Amarillo 31



There have been at least three cases of quorum-busting in Texas Senate history. The first case was in 1870, with the Rump Senate, followed by the 1979 Killer Ds. and finally the Texas Eleven in August 2003, who were following the example of the Texas house Killer Ds.[7]

Committee structure[edit]

The following represents the Senate committee structure for the 85th Legislature.

  • Administration
  • Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs
  • Business & Commerce
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Health & Human Services
  • Higher Education
  • Intergovernmental Relations
  • Natural Resources & Economic Development
  • Nominations
  • State Affairs
  • Transportation
  • Veteran Affairs & Border Security

In addition, the House and Senate operate the permanent joint committee known as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

Current composition[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Democratic Vacant
Begin 2013[8] 19 11 30 1
March 3, 2013[9] 12 31 0
Begin 2015 20 11 31 0
Begin 2017 20 11 31 0
June 26, 2018[10] 20 10 31 1
September 18, 2018[11] 21 10 31 0
November 9, 2018[12] 21 9 31 1
December 11, 2018[13] 21 10 31 0
Latest voting share 68% 32%

List of members[edit]

District Senator Party Residence First
County(ies) represented
1 Bryan Hughes Republican Mineola 2016 2020 Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Wood, Upshur
2 Bob Hall Republican Edgewood in Van Zandt County 2014 2022 Dallas (part), Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, Van Zandt
3 Robert Nichols Republican Jacksonville 2006 2022 Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Montgomery (part), Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler
4 Brandon Creighton Republican The Woodlands 2014† 2020 Chambers, Galveston (part), Harris (part), Jefferson, Montgomery (part)
5 Charles Schwertner Republican Georgetown 2012 2022 Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, Williamson
6 Carol Alvarado Democratic Houston 2018† 2020 Harris (part)
7 Paul Bettencourt Republican Houston 2014 2022 Harris (part)
8 Angela Paxton Republican Plano 2018 2022 Collin (part), Dallas (part)
9 Kelly Hancock Republican Fort Worth 2012 2022 Dallas (part), Tarrant (part)
10 Beverly Powell Democratic Fort Worth 2018 2022 Tarrant (part)
11 Larry Taylor Republican Friendswood 2012 2020 Brazoria (part), Galveston (part), Harris (part)
12 Jane Nelson Republican Flower Mound 1992 2020 Denton (part), Tarrant (part)
13 Borris Miles Democratic Houston 2016 2020 Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
14 Kirk Watson Democratic Austin 2006 2018 Bastrop, Travis (part)
15 John Whitmire Democratic Houston 1982 2018 Harris (part)
16 Nathan Johnson Democratic Dallas 2018 2022 Dallas (part)
17 Joan Huffman Republican Southside Place 2008† 2018 Brazoria (part), Fort Bend (part), Harris (part)
18 Lois Kolkhorst Republican Katy 2014 2020 Aransas, Austin, Burleson, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend (part), Goliad, Gonzales, Harris (part), Jackson, Lee, Matagorda, Nueces (part), Refugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington, Wharton
19 Pete Flores Republican Pleasanton 2018† 2020 Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Brewster, Crockett, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kinney, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Real, Reeves, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Zavala
20 Juan Hinojosa Democratic McAllen 2002 2020 Brooks, Hidalgo (part), Jim Wells, Nueces (part)
21 Judith Zaffirini Democratic Laredo 1986 2020 Atascosa (part), Bexar (part), Bee, Caldwell, Duval, Guadalupe (part), Live Oak, Jim Hogg, Karnes, La Salle, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Travis (part), Uvalde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata
22 Brian Birdwell Republican Granbury 2010† 2020 Bosque, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood (part), Frio, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro, Somervell, Tarrant (part)
23 Royce West Democratic Dallas 1992 2018 Dallas (part)
24 Dawn Buckingham Republican Horseshoe Bay 2016 2020 Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Comanche, Coryell, Gillespie, Hamilton, Kerr, Lampasas, Llano, Mills, San Saba, Taylor (part), Travis(part)
25 Donna Campbell Republican New Braunfels 2012 2018 Bexar (part), Travis (part), Comal, Hays, Kendall
26 Jose Menendez Democratic San Antonio 2015† 2020 Bexar (part)
27 Eddie Lucio Jr. Democratic Brownsville 1990 2020 Cameron, Hidalgo (part), Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy
28 Charles Perry Republican Lubbock 2014† 2020 Baylor, Borden, Childress, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Cottle, Crane, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Eastland, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Hale, Hardeman, Haskell, Hockley, Irion, Jones, Kent, Kimble, King, Knox, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Mason, McColluch, Menard, Mitchell, Montague, Motley, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels, Sleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Upton, Ward, Wheeler, Wilbarger, Young
29 José R. Rodríguez Democratic El Paso 2010 2020 Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio
30 Pat Fallon Republican Prosper 2018 2022 Archer, Clay, Collin (part), Cooke, Denton (part), Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, Young
31 Kel Seliger Republican Amarillo 2004† 2018 Andrews, Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Cochran, Collingsworth, Coke, Coleman, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Donley, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Gray, Hall, Hartley, Hemphill, Hansford, Howard, Hutchinson, Jones, Lipscomb, Loving, Lynn, Martin, Midland, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Wheeler, Winkler, Yoakum

†Elected in a special election

Notable past members[edit]

Past composition of the Senate[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°16′28″N 97°44′24″W / 30.274537°N 97.739906°W / 30.274537; -97.739906