Texas’ Biennial Legislature – Benefits and Drawbacks

Attorney Jake Posey
Attorney Jake Posey

Attorney Jake Posey practices government relations and business law from his private practice in Austin, Texas. In his daily work, attorney Jake Posey helps companies develop government relations solutions to advance their legislative goals in the state.

The Texas Constitution outlines guidelines for the state Legislature in Article III. These provisions say that the Legislature shall meet every other year, skipping even-numbered years.

Legislative sessions begin at noon on the second Tuesday in January all other years. These sessions are short and limited to 140 days.

Texas is one of just four states that operates in this biennial manner, along with Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota. There are several arguments for biennial sessions in these states.

The biennial structure can act as a safeguard against excessive legislation in states where there are already many laws. The structure also allows for time to study proposed legislation and interact with constituents.

Shorter and less frequent legislative sessions help keep government costs down. However, there are also some drawbacks.

Political outsiders such as business owners and interest groups find it hard to understand legislative proceedings when they occur infrequently. This shifts power toward lobbyists, who are better able to learn the hierarchies and subtle power structures within the Legislature.

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Texas’ Biennial Legislature – Benefits and Drawbacks