Interest Group Typologies

Texas Interest Groups

Trade associations are groups of companies involved in the same business. The Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Bankers Association and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association are three prominent examples.

Professional Associations are like trade associations, but with individual – rather than company – members. The Texas Nurses Association and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers are two major Texas professional associations. The Texas Nursing Association advocates for safe nursing practices through education and licensure in the Texas Nursing Practice Act.

Organized labor is another major interest group type. While union members account for less than 5 percent of wage and salary workers in Texas, unions play a prominent role in the political process. The most prominent umbrella group for labor in Texas is the AFL-CIO, but with increasing competition from SEIU Texas, which specializes in government and service workers.

Historically, agriculture groups have played a more prominent role in Texas government than any other type of interest group. As Texas politics become more urban, however, groups like the Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, while still important, don’t dominate policy in Texas as much as in the 20th Century.

Racial, ethnic, and minority groups from the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and LULAC to Equality Texas advocate on behalf of specific groups of people based on their racial heritage, sexual orientation, or other types of minority status.

Religious groups have a long history of advocacy in Texas. Groups such as the Baptist Christian Life Commission have historically held considerable influence  on abortion, gambling, and alcohol issues, but are involved increasingly on social justice issues like predatory lending and human tracking.

One of the least-known, but most powerful classes of interest groups in Texas, are groups of local governments. The Texas Municipal League and the Texas Association of Counties have been increasingly active during state legislative sessions as legislators deal with property tax and local control issues that aect their ability to serve their constituents.

Finally, for every cause about which Texans are passionate, there are cause groups representing their interests. From the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to Texas Right to Life on abortion and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) on drinking and driving laws to Bike Texas which advocates for bicyclists, cause groups lobby for their members’ views on a wide variety of policy issues.