The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameral Texas Legislature. It consists of 150 members who are elected from single-member districts for 2 year terms. As of the 2010 Census, each member represents about 167,637 people. There are no term limits, with the most senior member, Tom Craddick, having been elected in 1968.
The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer and highest-ranking member of the House. The Speaker's duties include maintaining order within the House, recognizing members during debate, ruling on procedural matters, appointing members to the various committees and sending bills for committee review. The Speaker pro tempore is primarily a ceremonial position, but does, by long-standing tradition, preside over the House during its consideration of local and consent bills.
Unlike other state legislatures, the House rules do not formally recognize majority or minority leaders. The unofficial leaders are the Republican Caucus Chairman and the Democratic House Leader, both of whom are elected by their respective caucuses.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives has duties as a presiding officer as well as administrative duties. As a presiding officer, the Speaker must enforce, apply, and interpret the rules of the House, call House members to order, lay business in order before the House and receive propositions made by members, refer proposed legislation to a committee, preserve order and decorum, recognize people in the gallery, state and hold votes on questions, vote as a member of the House, decide on all questions to order, appoint the Speaker Pro Tempore and Temporary Chair, adjourn the House in the event of an emergency, postpone reconvening in the event of an emergency, and sign all bills, joint resolutions, and concurrent resolutions. The administrative duties of the Speaker include having control over the Hall of the House, appointing chair, vice-chair, and members to each standing committee, appointing all conference committees, and directing committees to make interim studies.