Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst

The Lieutenant Governor in Texas is unique in that he is part of both the Executive and Legislative branches.

As in most states, the Lieutenant Governor in Texas assumes the powers and duties of the Governor when the Governor is unable to serve or is absent from the state. But in Texas, the Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor, and each can be members of different political parties.

The Texas Constitution names the Lieutenant Governor the Constitutional President of the Senate, but the Constitution also gives the Senate the authority to write its own rules. That's where the Lieutenant Governor derives most of his power.

These rules, adopted by a majority of Senators at the beginning of each Legislative Session, set down in great detail how business is conducted in the Senate.

Senate rules give the current Lieutenant Governor a great deal of influence in shaping state policy and influencing laws that may eventually be passed by the Senate.

The rules allow the present Lieutenant Governor to decide all parliamentary questions and use his discretion in following Senate procedural rules. He can set up standing and special committees and appoint committee chairpersons and individual members.

The order in which bills are considered is also set by the Lieutenant Governor under Senate rules.

Another important source of power is the Lieutenant Governor's leadership role in the Senate. His leadership abilities and the faith and confidence he inspires in the Senators will determine how he is treated when the Senate writes its rules.

The Texas Constitution gives the Lieutenant Governor the right to debate and vote on all issues when the Senate sits as a Committee of the Whole. And his Constitutional role as President of the Senate also gives the Lieutenant Governor the right to cast the deciding vote in the case of a Senate tie.

Like the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor is required to sign all bills and resolutions. The Constitution also names him to the five-member Legislative Redistricting Board which apportions the state into senatorial and representative districts in the event the Legislature is unable to do so.

These powers are fundamental since the Constitution can be changed only by a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, followed by the approval of a majority vote of the people at a statewide election.

The Lieutenant Governor derives other powers and responsibilities from state statute. By statute, the Lieutenant Governor is a member of several Legislative branch boards and committees: the Legislative Budget Board , the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee and the Legislative Education Board. He is designated as Chair of the Legislative Budget Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy.

The Legislative Budget Board, for example, provides the Legislature with a recommended budget at the beginning of every session. In many other states, this is done only in the executive branch. The authority of the Legislative Budget Board is broad, and its influence on spending is significant. By his Chairship and his power to make appointments to the Board, the Lieutenant Governor exerts a powerful influence on public policy.

The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of two Executive branch boards created by statute, the Cash Management Committee and the Bond Review Board.