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Unformatted text preview: State Constitution Roots of State Constitutions people of each state can create the type of government they wish (limitations of U.S. Constitution) adopted in convention ratified by people Parts of state constitutions: preamble bill of rights articles providing for separation of powers type of legislature (bicameral or unicameral) executive department independent judiciary with power of judicial review form and powers of local units of government article on how to amend Constitution miscellaneous procedures Rigidity of State Constitutions More detailed than U.S. Constitution Longer, less flexible Prescriptive Limits discretion of public officials Out of date Limits lawmakers to act on problems Constitutional amendments for changes Texas Constitution Texas One of longest and most restrictive state constitutions 2005 432 Amendments 93,000 words reflects interests and concerns of original writers History 1869 constitutional convention held in 1868 centralized state power for governor lengthened gubernatorial term to 4 years governor to appoint major state offices and judges annual legislative sessions weak local government centralized public school system Reflected little fear of centralized government power fear was to later become the hallmark of Texas government constitution ratified in 1869 Era regarded as most corrupt and abusive in state's history (E.J.Davis) misappropriation of public funds wasteful public programs landowner's refusal to pay high property taxes result of these actions was increased public debt Law and order collapsed desperados Native Americans Tyranny militia and state police maintain powerful political machine Davis ousted by Coke and supporters singing "Yellow Rose of Texas" Reconstruction: progressive programs protected political and civil rights of former slaves bitter memories for state humiliating, corrupt, extravagant, tyrannical Retrenchment and Reform Democrats determined to strike "at the heart of big government" Constitutional convention in 1873 frugal tone reflected in final constitution cut salaries for governing officials placed strict limits on property taxes Restricted state borrowing restricted power granted to government officials most of governor's powers stripped term reduced to 2 years; salary cut attorney general and state judges elected rather than appointed by governor legislative sessions to be held every 2 years with limited length of sessions legislative procedure detailed in constitution restrictions placed on types of policies legislature might enact numerous public policies written into constitution statutelike Local government strengthened counties given many administrative and judicial functions of the state tone of convention was a reaction to abuse of state power by denying it voters ratified state Constitution of 1876 remains in use today Constitution Today Not a living constitution no flexibility built in not serving current problems and concerns Bill of Rights and Fundamental Liberty Texas Bill of Rights provides additional rights (Article I) prohibits sexual discrimination guarantees victim's rights forbids imprisonment for debt forbids committing mentally ill for extended periods of time without jury trial prohibits suspension of writ of habeas corpus protects homesteads prohibits garnishment of wages (except child support) Statutory Law: no polygraph tests for public employees worker's compensation for farm workers expanded free speech for private employees Provides more protection than most other state constitutions Separation of Powers Legislative branch Executive branch Judicial branch system of checks and balances each branch can influence the other branches each has separate functions some sharing of power Legislative Branch Bicameral legislative body Senate 31 members 4 year terms House of Representatives 150 members 2 year terms Have biennial regular sessions 140 days in odd years important legislation receives inadequate attention many bills ignored Special sessions called by governor Policymaking Constitution through legislative statute Statutelike details changed by constitutional amendment Distrust of legislature makes it difficult for state to adapt and change Executive Branch Article IV governor heads executive branch 4 year term More severe constitutional restrictions on power of office Plural executive divides executive powers among several offices: governor lieutenant governor attorney general comptroller of public accounts railroad commissioners commissioner of general land office Powers granted specifically to governor appointive powers veto item veto on appropriations legislative special sessions Governor relatively weak office in Texas Courts Article V fragments court system 2 courts of final appeal Texas Supreme court civil appeals cases Court of Criminal Appeals criminal appeals cases Other courts provided for by Constitution: court of appeals district, county, and justice of the peace courts Judges chosen in partisan elections generally not desirable becomes a politician may not apply laws uniformly Local Government Constitution provides for counties' rigid organizational structure provide many functions for state Cities with population over 5,000 may adopt homerule charters Suffrage Function of state and local governments Set suffrage requirements and administer elections (Article VI) denies idiots, lunatics, paupers and those convicted of a felony the right to vote in state and municipal elections Lack of voter participation at state level Local level election can include initiatives registered voters can propose statutory or constitutional changes by petition Referendum voters approve changes in law by election Popular recall citizens petition for a special election to remove elected official Amending Texas Constitution Article XVII constitutional amendments must be proposed by twothirds of total membership of each house of legislature Ratification requires approval by a majority vote on the amendment in either a general or special election ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2012 for the course POLS 2306 taught by Professor Bezdek during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.
- Spring '08