The New Definition of Majority
When Dan Patrick was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 2014, he was determined to make Republican legislation a priority in the Texas State Senate. Dan Patrick used his new position as leader of the Senate to change the voting system that lead to an increase in Republican legislation passed during the legislative session. The change in the Senate from a 2/3rd majority to 3/5th majority drastically changed the partisan balance of bills passed during the legislative session. It was Dan Patrick’s intention with the rule change to diminish the required majority size. My data analysis shows conclusively that when the senate majority was changed more Republican legislation was passed.
My main source for data regarding senate legislation is the State of Texas Senate portion of Texas Legislature Online, which provides data identifying the partisan break down of legislation passed in the senate. Texas Legislature Online defines partisan break down based on which legislative session a person is looking at. I gathered data regarding whether or not a bipartisan bill was more likely to pass with 2/3rd or 3/5th. Prior to the passage of the 3/5th majority, for a bill to pass engrossment, meaning the bill will be sent to the house of representatives for consideration, a 2/3rd majority vote was required to pass a bill, but when Dan Patrick was elected Lieutenant Governor he changed the majority to benefit the Republican’s legislative agenda. By comparing these two data pools I can determine the extent to which the 3/5th majority Senate rule changed the course of the legislative process in Texas. This question is relevant to Texas government, especially now, because when addressing current legislation during the 85th legislative session elected officials can recognize trends in voting and find other senators of the same party to possibly coauthor or sponsor a piece of legislation.
When looking at the partisan breakdown of the Texas State Senate for the past three legislative sessions, there are consistently more Republican Senators in the Senate than Democratic Senators. In between the 83rd legislative session and 84th legislative session when Dan Patrick was elected Lieutenant Governor, the percentage of Republican legislation increases by six percent. Dan Patrick changed the voting system in the Texas State Senate and his rule change has affected the entire legislative process and will continue to affect the legislative process for years to come.
1. Texas Senate Legislative Reports. Texas Legislature Online.