At the start of the 2023 legislative session, Greg Abbott began his eighth year as Governor of Texas. He outlined his legislative goals in the annual State of the State address in February 2023, naming the following legislative priorities:
- Public health initiatives
- Stopping the border crisis
- Election integrity
- Abortion restrictions
- Building upon the state’s economic opportunity.
Texas’ Legislative Sessions occur only every two years, making this the first session since 2021. The House of Representatives has 150 seats – 86 Republican and 64 Democratic, and the Senate has 31 seats – 19 Republican and 12 Democratic. With this balance and Abbot as Governor, all three levels of the Texan government are controlled by the Republican Party.
Before the session began in January, the Republican majority shared its legislative priorities: Protect our Elections, Secure the Border, Ban Gender Modification of Children, Stop Sexualizing Texas Kids, Ban Democrat Chairs, Abolish Abortion in Texas, Defend Our Gun Rights, and Defend Parental Rights and Educational Freedom.
Key Data: 2023 Texas Legislature
Throughout this year’s Legislative Session, which took place from January 10-May 29, Texas passed 512 bills out of the 10,322 introduced. These bills focused on economic investments, education and healthcare. During the 2021 session, Texas passed 1,139 out of 12,235 introduced bills that focused on economic investments, education, public health, appropriations and crime policy.
Legislative Trends in Texas
In 2022, the party makeup of the federal government fluctuated from the Democrats controlling all three levels, to a split government. When a split of this nature occurs, federal legislation is less likely to pass. Thus, the pressure was on for states to meet their parties’ legislative goals. In Texas, four key issues dominated the Legislature’s focus:
- The rights of transgender individuals
- Abortion access
- Equity in education
- Gun control