The opportunities and challenges for popular representation are more evident in the legislative branch than in any other branch of government. With 150 seats in the House and 31 in the Senate representing geographic districts that cover the entire state, the Texas Legislature is the single most broadly representative governmental body in the state.
Over the past few decades the Legislature has become more diverse with more women and minorities, and Republicans, reflecting some of the broad general currents in Texas politics and society.
Still, even viewed in the best light, representation is fundamentally limited. Despite increases in female and minority representation, their proportions of the membership remain below their numbers in the population at large. Nor have the professional and industry backgrounds of legislators varied much over the years. Our state lawmakers still come disproportionately from the ranks of lawyers and businesspersons, from industries including insurance, real estate, construction, petroleum, and agriculture.
Even those members of the legislature who do not originally come from these professional and industry backgrounds become subject to the considerable pressure to represent those interests, sometimes at the cost of the public interest. This is because the cost of electoral campaigning in the modern era has become onerous for any but the most generously funded candidates. The biggest sources of such funds are private sector businesses and other special interests.