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Texas Politics - The Legislative Branch
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7.2    Impact of Committee System

The committee system fundamentally shapes the work of the Texas Legislature, influencing what bills are considered and how far they advance through the long legislative process. The committee system also channels the support of well financed interest groups to specific committees and their members. This has a strong impact on the reelection opportunities of incumbent legislators. The committee system thus shapes both the legislative process and the distribution of power in the Legislature.

Though the presiding officer in each house wields tremendous authority to appoint committee memberships and to refer legislation, once a bill is referred, the responsible committee then enjoys considerable authority to shape the bill.

This authority in turn provides considerable opportunity for committee members, especially their chairs, to collect substantial campaign contributions from special interests. The public interest group Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) showed that committee chairs in the house received significantly greater sums in campaign contributions on average than their non-chair colleagues. The thirty-one chairs in the House of Representatives in 1995, according to the TPJ, received on average $127,141 in contributions compared to an average of $98,170 for the rest of the house over the two-year electoral cycle that began in January of that year.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 117
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