Ask the editor: Why does the Texas Legislature only meet every other year?

Joe Lanane Joe Lanane, Managing Editor - Austin[/caption]

Why does the Texas Legislature only meet every other year? Managing Editor Joe Lanane explains: 


The Texas Legislature operates under a biennial system, meaning state elected officials convene at the Capitol once every two years. The regular session begins at noon the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years, and the session lasts a maximum of 140 days.


The governor can also call special 30-day sessions to pass laws he or she specifically sets on the agenda. Such sessions in recent years have typically occurred in June as an extension of the regular session.


Texas is one of only four states—Montana, Nevada and North Dakota being the others—to not schedule a regular legislative session every year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Despite some efforts in recent years to increase the frequency with which the state Legislature meets, most Texas public officials have embraced the idea of meeting less. 


The state constitution requires only that lawmakers pass a two-year budget each biennial legislative session.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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