With issues mounting, should Texas lawmakers meet each year?
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During his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, Governor Perry touted Texas’ part-time legislature as an effective way to reduce costs in government, but with a growing state and mounting political issues, is part-time still the way for Texas to handle its lawmaking?
The Lone Star State is one of only four states in the country whose legislature meets every two years, and among the top ten most populous, it is the only state where lawmakers don’t gather each year.
With major issues facing Texas right now, including school funding and the financial impact of the drought, some are calling for the Texas Legislature to make the move to an annual schedule.
Rep. Elliott Naishtat has served in the Texas House of Representatives for more than 20 years. When first elected, he says he was on-board with part-time, but things have changed.
“I would argue the issues are bigger, more crucial. Budgetary matters are so important and it seems like we're always talking about the need for a special session. That could be avoided and the people of this state would be better represented if we had a full time legislature," Rep. Naishtat said. "I think it's high time we move to a full-time legislature."
Former state lawmaker Sherri Greenberg – now with UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs – says the issue is one that comes up often, but never gets much traction.
“I think you would have to show citizens that there's something in it for them besides costing more," she said. “Just to be in session does not mean action will be taken."
Click here to take a look at further arguments regarding the benefits and drawbacks of annual and biennial legislative sessions.