When the Legislature was established, lawmakers could travel across Texas on foot or by horse. Journeys were long, and people were often attacked by bandits or Native American tribes, so lawmakers chose to meet in Austin every two years, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Many states switched to annual sessions in the 1970s, but Texas did not.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas are the only states that do not meet every year. All four states hold their legislative sessions during odd-number years.
The Texas Legislature first convened in 1846, according to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas. The session was 87 days long, but lawmakers met again in 1847, kicking off the tradition of odd-numbered years.
Now, sessions are limited to 140 days, according to the Texas Constitution. The governor has the authority to call special sessions, which are limited to 30 days. Each special session focuses on specific topics chosen by the governor, and only laws on those topics can be passed.
In 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott called three special sessions, which dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement, elections, the Texas-Mexico border, transgender rights and more.