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Texas’ 2023 Legislature Will Be Disproportionately Old and Male

The average age of the 181 state lawmakers will be 57 years old compared to 2021’s average, which was 54. Despite some female gains in 2022, there will still be twice as many men as women in the statehouse.

The Texas House chamber
The House chamber in the Texas Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
(Juan Figueroa/ The Dallas Morning News)
(TNS) — The 2023 Texas Legislature will be much older and more male-dominated than the state’s population overall, a review by The Dallas Morning News shows.

Inside the Capitol, the average age of the 181 lawmakers inside both chambers of the Legislature is 57 years old when factoring in new members who were just elected in November’s midterm elections. For comparison, the average age of legislators for the 2021 session was 54, according to The Texas Tribune.

The Senate is the oldest chamber, with the average age of a senator being 60. In the House, the average age of a representative is 54.

When it comes to gender breakdown, while female candidates posted some gains in last month’s midterm election, there still are more than twice as many men as there are women: 128-53 in the chambers combined. In Texas, according to the recent census, men and women share about an equal portion of the population: 50-50.

And when it comes to a breakdown by political parties, Republicans slightly increased their advantage over Democrats in the midterms. In the House, Republicans hold an 86-64 advantage; in the Senate, it’s 19-12.

Regarding statewide elected officials, Republicans have held an iron grip on those positions — a Democrat has not won a statewide race in more than 25 years.

The lack of representation from state lawmakers will impact the kind of policies that are passed and could ignore certain demographics, said University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus.

“The experiences of each age group, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, are all unique and if it’s not part of the Legislature, then those things get pushed aside,” Rottinghaus said. “The Legislature only has so much time to operate… So to be able to understand what the state needs, the legislators have to reflect who the state is.”

The new roster of legislators also doubles the number of GOP women in the House, expands the LGBTQ caucus and includes the state’s first two Muslim state lawmakers. Additional demographic information about lawmakers will be available early next year.

Legislature is Much Older

Rep.-elect Caroline Harris, whose district is in Central Texas, will be the youngest member of the Legislature when she is sworn in. She is 29.

She is the only lawmaker in their 20s. While in Texas, 14 percent of the state’s population is between the ages of 20-29, according to the census, in the Legislature it’s less than 1 percent.

But lawmakers are overly representative of 50-59 year olds. While in Texas, that age range is 12 percent of the state’s population, in the House it’s 29 percent. In the senate, almost half of the members fall in group — a whopping 48 percent.

That’s not surprising, Rottinghaus said, as younger people face more obstacles to run for elected offices than older people.

“Running for office is expensive and younger people either don’t have the resources or connections to the resources in a way that gives them the ability to run and win,” he said. “The longer you’re in the Legislature, the more power you’ve got.”

Gender Breakdown

The 2021 session included 48 women serving in the two chambers combined. The 2023 session will have 53 women — 45 in the House and eight in the Senate.

Among the nine statewide positions serving in Texas, from governor to railroad commissioners, seven are men and two are women — Land Commissioner-elect Dawn Buckingham and Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick. Buckingham is the first woman to be elected to serve as land commissioner.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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