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Entry from January 03, 2021
“The Best Show in Town” (Texas Legislature)

The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every two years in Austin, the capital city. It has been called “the best show in town.”

“AUSTIN—The biggest and by far the best show in town is put on by the Texas House of Representatives. The usual run is Monday through Friday. It’s a scream” was printed in the Odessa (TX) American on March 12, 1961.  “The Best Show in Town” by Paul Burka was printed in Texas Monthly on January 1975.


Wikipedia: Texas Legislature
The Texas Legislature is the state legislature of the US state of Texas. It is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas’s plural executive.

Newspapers.com
12 March 1961, Odessa (TX) American, “Lawmakers Put On ‘Best Show In Town’” by Fletcher Robertson, pg. 41, col. 3:
AUSTIN—The biggest and by far the best show in town is put on by the Texas House of Representatives. The usual run is Monday through Friday. It’s a scream.

Texas Monthly
January 1975, Texas Monthly, “The Best Show in Town” by Paul Burka, pg. 74, col. 1:
The legislature now meets every two years for 140 days, although it has been suggested that we’d all be better off if it convened every 140 years for two days.

Newspapers.com
2 March 1975, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, “A Constant In The Shifting Scene” by Kerry Gunnels, pg. 4B, cols. 1-2:
In years past, and to a large extent still today, Austin had the flavor of a medium-sized provincial municipality, tucked away from the brisk pace set in other Texas cities, which just happened to be the home of the state’s largest university and of The Best Show in Town—The Texas Legislature.

Newspapers.com
23 October 1976, Tyler (TX) Morning Telegraph, “After Deadline” by David Barron, pg. 1, col. 1:
If you’ve ever read any of Paul Burka’s stories on the Texas Legislature in Texas Monthly, it may be hard for you to believe he would ever have anything good to say about the group he has often called “the best show in town.”

But, everything considered, Burka says he doesn’t think the legislature is all that bad. He doesn’t agree with the old joke that, instead of limiting the legislature to meeting 140 days every two years, the Texas Constitution should limit it to two days every 140 years.

Newspapers.com
12 April 1987, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Austin capitol venture in free entertainment” by Claire Eyrich, sec. E, pg. 4, col. 3:
When the Texas Legislature is in session, there are days when it provides the best show in town.

Newspapers.com
27 May 2007, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “House spectators wonder, ‘Where’s Jerry Springer?’” by Mike Ward, pg. A-15, col. 5:
Charlette Simpson figured she shouldn’t miss the “best show in town.”

Texas Monthly
March 2013, Texas Monthly, “Editor’s Letter” by Jake Silverstein, pg. ?:
Austin is known, somewhat ostentatiously, as the Live Music Capital of the World, but as any longtime resident knows, the best show in town is not a musical performance at all. In fact, it is mostly tuneless, it has little in the way of rhythm, and no one has ever tried to dance to it (except, perhaps, for the occasional lobbyist). I am speaking, of course, about the pageant that descends on the state capital every odd-numbered year, when the 181 members of the Texas state legislature arrive. The session kicks off in early January, but March is the month when it really begins, after the filing deadline for bills has passed, the floor debate starts, and the spectacle of jockeying, grandstanding, obstructing, horse-trading, and speechifying known as American democracy picks up speed. The tempo increases rapidly until we reach Peak Lege, sometime around April 1, when the appropriations bill reaches the floor and both the knives and the roses come out. From then until the final gavel, the show levels off into a pattern of late nights, bleary eyes, and, hopefully, at least a few displays of leadership.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, January 03, 2021 • Permalink