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Constitutions of Texas 1824-1876

Article III: Legislative Department

ARTICLE III.beginning page of Article III

Legislative Department.

SECTION 1. The legislative power of this State shall be vested in a Senate and House of Representatives, which together shall be styled "The Legislature of the State of Texas."

SEC. 2. The Senate shall consist of thirty-one members, and shall never be increased above this number. The House of Representatives shall consist of ninety-three members until the first apportionment after the adoption of this Constitution, when, or at any apportionment thereafter, the number of representatives may be increased by the Legislature, upon the ratio of not more than one representative for every fifteen thousand inhabitants, provided, the number of representatives shall never exceed one hundred and fifty.

SEC. 3. The senators shall be chosen by the qualified electors for the term of four years, but a new Senate shall be chosen after every apportionment, and the senators elected after each apportionment shall be divided by lot into two classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the first two years, and those of the second class at the expiration of four years, so that one-half of the senators shall be chosen biennially thereafter.

SEC. 4. The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by the qualified electors, and their term of office shall be two years from the day of their election.

SEC. 5. The Legislature shall meet every two years, at such time as may be provided by law, and at other times when convened by the governor.

SEC. 6. No person shall be a senator, unless he be a citizen of the United States, and, at the time of his election a qualified elector of this State, and shall have been a resident of this State five years next preceding his election, and the last year thereof a resident of the district for which he shall be chosen, and shall have attained the age of twenty-six years.

SEC. 7. No person shall be a representative, unless he be a citizen of the United States, and, at the time of his election a qualified elector of this State, and shall have been a resident of this State two years next preceding his election, the last year thereof a resident of the district for which he shall be chosen, and shall have attained the age of twenty-one years.

SEC. 8. Each house shall be the judge of the qualifications and election of its own members; but contested elections shall be determined in such manner as shall be provided by law.

SEC. 9. The Senate shall, at the beginning and close of each session, and at such other times as may be necessary, elect one of its members President, pro tempore, who shall perform the duties of the lieutenant governor in any case of absence or disability of that officer, and whenever the said office of lieutenant governor shall be vacant. The House of Representatives shall, when it first assembles, organize temporarily, and thereupon proceed to the election of a speaker from its own members; and each house shall choose its other officers.

SEC. 10. Two-thirds of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.

SEC. 11. Each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish members for disorderly conduct, and, with the consent of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offense.

SEC. 12. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish the same; and the yeas and nays of the members of either house on any question shall, at the desire of any three members present, be entered on the journals.

SEC. 13. When vacancies occur in either house, the governor, or the person exercising the power of the governor, shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies; and should the governor fail to issue a writ of election to fill such vacancies; and should the governor fail to issue a writ of election to fill any such vacancy within twenty days after it occurs, the returning officer of the district in which such vacancy may have happened shall be authorized to order an election for that purpose.

SEC. 14. Senators and representatives shall, except in cases of treason, felony or breach of peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the Legislature, and in going to and returning from the same, allowing one day for every twenty miles such member may reside from the place at which the Legislature is convened.

SEC. 15. Each house may punish, by imprisonment, during its sessions, any person not a member, for disrespectful or disorderly conduct in its presence, or for obstructing any of its proceedings; provided, such imprisonment shall not, at any one time, exceed forty-eight hours.

SEC. 16. The sessions of each house shall be open, except the Senate when in executive session.

SEC. 17. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that where the Legislature may be sitting.

SEC. 18. No senator or representative shall, during the term for which he may be elected, be eligible to any civil office of profit under this State which shall have been created or the emoluments of which may have been increased during such term; no member of either house shall, during the term for which he is elected, be eligible to any office or place, the appointment to which may be made, in whole or in part, by either branch of the Legislature; and no member of either house shall vote for any other member for any office whatever, which may be filled by a vote of the Legislature, except in such cases as are in this Constitution provided. Nor shall any member of the Legislature be interested, either directly or indirectly, in any contract with the State, or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.

SEC. 19. No judge of any court, secretary of state, attorney general, clerk of any court of record, or any person holding a lucrative office under the United States, or this State, or any foreign government shall, during the term for which he is elected or appointed, be eligible to the Legislature.

SEC. 20. No person who at any time may have been a collector of taxes, or who may have been otherwise entrusted with public money, shall be eligible to the Legislature, or to any office of profit or trust under the State government, until he shall have obtained a discharge for the amount of such collections, or for all public moneys with which he may have been entrusted.

SEC. 21. No member shall be questioned in any other place for words spoken in debate in either house.

SEC. 22. A member who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill, proposed, or pending before the Legislature, shall disclose the fact to the house, of which he is a member, and shall not vote thereon.

SEC. 23. If any senator or representative remove his residence from the district or county for which he was elected, his office shall thereby become vacant, and the vacancy shall be filled as provided in section 13 of this article.

SEC. 24. The members of the Legislature shall receive from the public treasury such compensation for their services, as may, from time to time, be provided by law, not exceeding five dollars per day for the first sixty days of each session; and after that not exceeding two dollars per day for the remainder of the session; except the first session held under this Constitution, when they may receive not exceeding five dollars per day for the first ninety days, and after that not exceeding two dollars per day for the remainder of the session. In addition to the per diem the members of each house shall be entitled to mileage in going to and returning from the seat of government, which mileage shall not exceed five dollars for every twenty-five miles, the distance to be computed by the nearest and most direct route of travel by land regardless of railways or water routes; and the comptroller of the State shall prepare and preserve a table of distances to each county seat now or hereafter to be established, and by such table the mileage of each member shall be paid; but no member shall be entitled to mileage for any extra session that may be called within one day after the adjournment of a regular or called session.

SEC. 25. The State shall be divided into senatorial districts of contiguous territory according to the number of qualified electors, as nearly as may be, and each district shall be entitled to elect one senator, and no single county shall be entitled to more than one senator.

SEC. 26. The members of the House of Representatives shall be apportioned among the several counties, according to the number of population in each, as nearly as may be, on a ratio obtained by dividing the population of the State, as ascertained by the most recent United States census, by the number of members of which the house is composed; provided, that, whenever a single county has sufficient population to be entitled to a representative, such county shall be formed into a separate representative district, and when two or more counties are required to make up the ration of representation such counties shall be contiguous to each other; and when any one county has more than sufficient population to be entitled to one or more representatives, such representative or representatives shall be apportioned to such county, and for any surplus of population it may be joined in a representative district with any other contiguous county or counties.

SEC. 27. Elections for senators and representatives shall be general throughout the State, and shall be regulated by law.

SEC. 28. The Legislature shall, at its first session after the publication of each United States decennial census, apportion the State into senatorial and representative districts, agreeably to the provisions of sections 25 and 26 of this Article; and until the next decennial census, when the first apportionment shall be made by the Legislature, the State shall be, and it is hereby divided into senatorial and representative districts as provided by an ordinance of the Convention on that subject.


SEC. 29. The enacting clause of all laws shall be, "Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas."

SEC. 30. No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose.

SEC. 31. Bills may originate in either house, and when passed by such house may be amended, altered or rejected by the other.

SEC. 32. No bill shall have the force of a law until it has been read on three several days in each house, and free discussion allowed thereon; but in cases of imperative public necessity (which necessity shall be stated in a preamble, or in the body of the bill), four-fifths of the house in which the bill may be pending may suspend this rule, the yeas and nays being taken on the question of suspension, and entered upon the journals.

SEC. 33. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may amend or reject them as other bills.

SEC. 34. After a bill has been considered and defeated by either house of the Legislature no bill containing the same substance shall be passed into a law during the same session. After a resolution has been acted on and defeated no resolution containing the same substance shall be considered at the same session.

SEC. 35. No bill (except general appropriation bills, which may embrace the various subjects and accounts for and on account of which moneys are appropriated) shall contain more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title. But if any subject shall be embraced in an act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed.

SEC. 36. No law shall be revived or amended by reference to its title; but in such case the act revived or the section or sections amended shall be re-enacted and published at length.

SEC. 37. No bill shall be considered, unless it has been first referred to a committee and reported thereon, and no bill shall be passed which has not been presented and referred to and reported from a committee at least three days before the final adjournment of the Legislature.

SEC. 38. The presiding officer of each house shall, in the presence of the house over which he presides, sign all bills and joint resolutions passed by the Legislature, after their titles have been publicly read before signing; and the fact of signing shall be entered on the journals.

SEC. 39. No laws passed by the Legislature, except the general appropriation act, shall take effect or go into force until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was enacted, unless in case of an emergency which emergency must be expressed in a preamble or in the body of the act, the Legislature shall, by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, otherwise direct; said vote to be taken by yeas and nays, and entered upon the journals.

SEC. 40. When the Legislature shall be convened in special session, there shall be no legislation upon subjects other than those designated in the proclamation of the governor calling such session, or presented to them by the governor; and no such session shall be of longer duration than thirty days.

SEC. 41. In all elections by the Senate and House of Representatives, jointly or separately, the vote shall be given viva voce, except in the election of their officers.


SEC. 42. The Legislature shall pass such laws as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this Constitution.

SEC. 43. The first session of the Legislature under this Constitution shall provide for revising, digesting and publishing the laws, civil and criminal; and a like revision, digest and publication may be made every ten years thereafter; provided, that in the adoption of and giving effect to any such digest or revision, the Legislature shall not be limited by sections 35 and 36 of this Article.

SEC. 44. The Legislature shall provide by law for the compensation of all officers, servants, agents and public contractors not provided for in this Constitution, but shall not grant extra compensation to any officer, agent, servant, or public contractors, after such public service shall have been performed or contract entered into for the performance of the same; nor grant, by appropriation or otherwise, any amount of money out of the treasury of the State, to any individual, on a claim, real or pretended, when the same shall not have been provided for by pre-existing law; nor employ any one in the name of the State unless authorized by pre-existing law.

SEC. 45. The power to change the venue in civil and criminal cases shall be vested in the courts, to be exercised in such manner as shall be provided by law; and the Legislature shall pass laws for that purpose.

SEC. 46. The Legislature shall, at its first session after the adoption of this Constitution, enact effective vagrant laws.

SEC. 47. The Legislature shall pass laws prohibiting the establishment of lotteries and gift enterprises in this State, as well as the sale of tickets in lotteries, gift enterprises or other evasions involving the lottery principle, established or existing in other States.

SEC. 48. The Legislature shall not have the right to levy taxes or impose burdens upon the people, except to raise revenue sufficient for the economical administration of the government, in which may be included the following purposes:

The payment of all interest upon the bonded debt of the State;

The erection and repairs of public buildings;

The benefit of the sinking fund, which shall not be more than two per centum of the public debt; and for the payment of the present floating debt of the State, including matured bonds for the payment of which the sinking fund is inadequate;

The support of public schools, in which shall be included colleges and universities established by the State; and the maintenance and support of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.

The payment of the cost of assessing and collecting the revenue; and the payment of all officers, agents and employes of the State government, and all incidental expenses connected therewith;

The enforcement of quarantine regulations on the coast of Texas;

The protection of the frontier.

SEC. 49. No debt shall be created by or on behalf of the State, except to supply casual deficiencies of revenue, repel invasion, suppress insurrection, defend the State in war, or pay existing debt and the debt created to supply deficiencies in the revenue, shall never exceed in the aggregate at any one time two hundred thousand dollars.

SEC. 50. The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending of the credit of the State in aid of, or to any person, association or corporation, whether municipal or other; or to pledge the credit of the State in any manner whatsoever, for the payment of the liabilities, present or prospective, of any individual, association of individuals, municipal or other corporation whatsoever.

SEC. 51. The Legislature shall have no power to make any grant, or authorize the making of any grant, of public money to any individual, association of individuals, municipal or other corporation whatsoever; provided, that this shall not be so construed as to prevent the grant of aid in case of public calamity.

SEC. 52. The Legislature shall have no power to authorize any county, city, town, or other political corporation, or sub-division of the State, to lend its credit or to grant public money or thing of value, in aid of any individual, association, or corporation whatsoever; or to become a stock-holder in such corporation, association or company.

SEC. 53. The Legislature shall have no power to grant, or to authorize any county or municipal authority to grant, any extra compensation, fee or allowance to a public officer, agent, servant or contractor, after service has been rendered, or a contract has been entered into, and performed in whole or in part, nor pay, or authorize the payment of, any claim created against any county or municipality of the State, under any agreement or contract, made without authority of law.

SEC. 54. The Legislatue shall have no power to release or alienate any lien held by the State upon any railroad, or in any wise change the tenor or meaning, or pass any act explanatory thereof; but the same shall be enforced in accordance with the original terms upon which it was acquired.

SEC. 55. The Legislature shall have no power to release or extinguish, or to authorize the releasing or extinguishing, in whole or in part, the indebtedness, liability or obligation of any incorporation or individual to this State, or to any county, or other municipal corporation therein.

SEC. 56. The Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, pass any local or special law authorizing:

The creation, extension or impairing of liens;

Regulating the affairs of counties, cities, towns, wards or school districts;

Changing the names of persons or places; changing the venue in civil or criminal cases;

Authorizing the laying out, opening, altering or maintaining of roads, high ways, streets or alleys;

Relating to ferries or bridges, or incorporating ferry or bridge companies, except for the erection of bridges crossing streams which form boundaries between this and any other State;

Vacating roads, town plats, streets or alleys;

Relating to cemeteries, graveyards or public grounds not of the State;

Authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children;

Locating or changing county seats;

Incorporating cities, towns or villages, or changing their charters;

For the opening and conducting of elections, or fixing or changing the places of voting;

Granting divorces;

Creating offices, or prescribing the powers and duties of officers, in counties, cities, towns, election or school districts;

Changing the law of descent or succession;

Regulating the practice or jurisdiction of, or changing the rules of evidence in any judicial proceeding or inquiry before courts, justices of the peace, sheriffs, commissioners, arbitrators or other tribunals, or providing or changing methods for the collection of debts, or the enforcing of judgments, or prescribing the effect of judicial sales of real estate;

Regulating the fees, or extending the powers and duties of aldermen, justices of the peace, magistrates or constables;

Regulating the management of public schools, the building or repairing of school houses, and the raising of money for such purposes;

Fixing the rate of interest;

Affecting the estates of minors, or persons under disability;

Remitting fines, penalties and forfeitures, and refunding moneys legally paid into the treasury;

Exempting property from taxation;

Regulating labor, trade, mining and manufacturing;

Declaring any named person of age;

Extending the time for the assessment or collection of taxes, or otherwise relieving any assessor or collector of taxes from the due performance of his official duties, or his securities from liability;

Giving effect to informal or invalid wills or deeds;

Summoning or impounding grand or petit juries;

For limitation of civil or criminal actions;

For incorporating railroads or other works of internal improvements.

And in all other cases where a general law can be made applicable, no local or special law shall be enacted; provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the Legislature from passing special laws for the preservation of the game and fish of this State in certain localities.

SEC. 57. No local or special law shall be passed, unless notice of the intention to apply therefor shall have been published in the locality where the matter or thing to be affected may be situated, which notice shall state the substance of the contemplated law, and shall be published at least thirty days prior to the introduction into the Legislature of such bill and in the manner to be provided by law. The evidence of such notice having been published shall be exhibited in the Legislature before such act shall be passed.

SEC. 58. The Legislature shall hold its sessions at the city of Austin, which is hereby declared to be the Seat of Government.

(Transcription, errors in original preserved)

Article III, Sections 1-4

Article III, Sections 1-4

Article III, Sections 5-23

Article III, Sections 5-23

Article III, Sections 23-39

Article III, Sections 23-39

Article III, Sections 39-53

Article III, Sections 39-53

Article III, Sections 53-58; Article IV, Sections 1-3

Article III, Sections 53-58; Article IV, Sections 1-3