Texas, Three Others Cling to Part-Time Legislature

Texas may be one of the largest states in the union, but it's still only one of four whose lawmakers meet every other year -- and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

The only other states with part-time legislatures are much less populated Montana, North Dakota and Nevada.

Texas' legislature dates back to the state's founding fathers who believed in so-called citizen lawmakers, but some argue it keeps Texas a beat or two behind states that meet year-round.

“The disadvantages of meeting every other year are that you can’t necessarily ride herd in a rapidly changing situation,” says Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune.   “Sometimes the Legislature isn’t here to react to that and that’s been something of a disadvantage for infrequent sessions.

“The advantage of having biennial sessions instead of constant sessions is that the Legislature is not always making law, there’s no time for them to mess around and do busy work.”

Ramsey says Texas so far has made it work.

“We’re not always happy with the results given our individual politics at any given time, but Texas has been governed this way for well over 100 years and seems to be doing pretty well.”

Texas lawmakers earn just $7,200 per year -- plus $190 each day they're in session.  That's about $41,000 over two years.

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