Texas Politics - The Legislative Branch
  1. Tradition and Modernity
  2. Looking Ahead
  1. Sessions
  2. Special Sessions
  3. Bicameral Structure
  4. Membership
  5. Compensation
  6. Terms of Office
  1. Formal
  2. Informal
  3. Party
  4. Gender, Race, Ethnicity
  5. Incumbency
  6. Age and Occupation
  1. Historical Perspective
Powers and Immunities
  1. Bills
  2. Resolutions
  3. Administrative Powers
  4. Investigative, Impeachment
  5. Immunities
Presiding Officers and Powers
  1. Senate Pres./Lt. Governor
  2. Speaker of the House
  3. Pro Tempore Positions
  1. Committees
  2. System Impact
How a Bill Becomes a Law
  1. Intro, Referral
  2. Committee Action
  3. Floor Action
  4. Conference Committee
  5. Governor's Desk
Citizens Legislative Power
  1. Constitutional Amendments
  2. Initiative and Referendum
10  Conclusions
  1. Reforms
  2. Citizen Participation
  1. Print-friendly format
  2. Key words and phrases
  3. Multimedia resources
  4. Lt. Governors table
  5. Speakers table
Caucuses illustrate changes in legislature Caucuses illustrate changes in legislature
legislative caucus
3.    Member Qualifications

Organizations have both a formal-legal structure – often created by a charter like a constitution or articles of incorporation – and an informal structure or organizational norms – created by tradition, habit, and often unspoken practices and beliefs. The formal-legal qualifications for the membership in the Texas legislature are quite simple and not restrictive. The informal requirements for membership have historically worked to create a relatively homogeneous legislature dominated by socially conservative, white males. In recent decades, the barriers created by informal qualifications have been lowered by legal and cultural changes that have admitted a somewhat broader array of Texans into legislative offices.

3.1    Formal Qualifications

The formal qualifications for serving in the state Legislature are few. For both houses of the Legislature Article III of the Texas Constitution specifies age, voting status and residency requirements.

Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 21 years of age, registered voters, legal residents of the state for at least two years, and residents of the districts from which they are elected for at least one year. Members of the Senate – the upper house – have slightly more demanding qualifications to fulfill: they must be at least 26 years old, registered voters for at least five years, and residents of the their district for at least one year.

3.2    Informal Qualifications

For several decades following the adoption of the current constitution, the membership of the Texas legislature was homogeneous – almost all were Democrat, white (Anglo or Germanic), conservative, and male. One might also add to the list: married, middle-aged, and working either in law or business.

The economic, political and social forces that have so transformed Texas in the past few decades have similarly transformed the state Legislature. The transformations of the national political parties, increasing participation of women in the workforce, immigration from other states and from Mexico, the growth of cities, and the diversification of the state economy have all contributed to greater – though limited – diversity of the membership. One way of understanding the trajectory of increased diversity in the legislature is to look at the history of legislative caucuses.

Texas Politics:
© 2005, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin