True
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Even "though men comprise 49% of the population, they hold 80% of the lawmaking power in the Legislature (144 of 181 seats)."

Annie's List on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 in a press release

Annie's List: Men hold 80 percent of 'lawmaking power' in Texas Legislature

In 2015, the record eight female Texas state senators were, left to right, Judith Zaffirini, Jane Nelson, Leticia Van de Putte, Joan Huffman, Donna Campbell, Sylvia Garcia, Lois Kolkhorst and Konni Burton (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman).

Annie’s List, a group that tries to elect progressive, pro-choice women in Texas, sees a lacking in your Texas Legislature: "Although Texas is one of America’s largest and most diverse states, and even though men comprise 49% of the population, they hold 80% of the lawmaking power in the Legislature (144 of 181 seats)."

Note: When all seats are filled, the state Legislature has 181 members, including 31 senators and 150 Texas House members. Edith Wilmans of Dallas, elected to the House in 1922 before losing re-election two years later, was the state’s first female legislator. In 1926, Margie Neal of Carthage proved the first woman elected to the Texas Senate, where she served until 1933.

But women did not hold more than a few legislative seats until the 1980s. The Legislative Reference Library’s listing of women members shows that the 70th regular session, in 1987, included 21 female House members and four women in the Senate. From then, the number of female House members escalated -- reaching a record 38 members in 2009 and dipping after that -- while the number of female senators stayed in the low single digits until the 2007 session began with five female senators; that body has had a record eight females since 2015.

So, is male dominance just as Annie’s List declared in a November 2016 press release?

Let’s first consider the group’s contention about the minority status of men in the state’s population. We turned to the Texas Demographic Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which says in its latest available estimate that the state’s total 2014 population of 26.9 million people broke out to 13.4 million men (48 percent) and 13.5 million women (51 percent).These estimates, which are posted on the center’s website, are the product of baseline projections from the 2010 Census population of each county.

Second, we checked the Legislature’s makeup. Given the somewhat fluid nature of its membership -- some lawmakers retire, others are defeated -- we looked first at its composition on Jan. 13, 2015, the first day of the 2015 regular session.

Membership by Gender of 84th Legislature, Jan. 13, 2015

Gender

House

Senate

Total

Male

120

23

143

Female

28

8

36

Total

148*

31

179

SOURCE: Membership Statistics for the 84th Legislature, Legislative Reference Library, undated (accessed Dec. 2, 2016) *Two House seats were vacant at the time: HD 13 (Brenham) and HD 123 (San Antonio)

The 2015 counts bear out the Annie's List contention: About 80 percent of Texas lawmakers were men, 20 percent were women.

The mix is narrowly poised to change in early 2017 due to the results of the 2016 elections, with the House netting one additional woman and the Senate continuing with eight women, according to a library list of members-elect posted online after the November 2016 elections.

The 2017 Legislature, whose members will be sworn in on Jan. 10, 2017, the first day of the 140-day regular session, will include 23 first-time members, the list shows. Men account for 65 percent of the first-termers, women about 35 percent:

Expected Membership by Gender of Newly Elected Texas Legislators, Jan. 10, 2017

Gender

House

Senate

Total

Male

15

0

15

Female

7

1

8

Total

22

1

23

SOURCE: Members-elect for the 85th Legislature, Legislative Reference Library, undated, (accessed Dec. 2, 2016)

Merging the new members and the returning ones gave us the final gender breakdown for the 85th Texas Legislature. In total, about 80 percent will be men and 20 percent will be women -- no change from the previous session.

Members by Gender of the 85th Legislature, Jan. 10, 2017

Gender

House

Senate

Total

Male

121

23

144

Female

29

8

37

Total

150

31

181

SOURCE: Members-elect for the 85th Legislature, Legislative Reference Library, undated (accessed Dec. 2, 2016)

Our ruling

Annie’s List said that "though men comprise 49% of the population, they hold 80% of the lawmaking power in the Legislature (144 of 181 seats)."

In 2014, 51 percent of the state’s residents were female, 48 percent were male. Of late, men account for 80 percent of Texas legislators, women comprise 20 percent. After members are sworn in for the 2017 regular session, there also will be an 80-20 split.

We rate this claim True.


TRUE – The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

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