Texas Constitution
Overview
 
The Constitution of the State of Texas is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of the U.S. State of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

.

Texas has had seven constitutions: the constitution of Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas was one of the constituent states of the newly established United Mexican States under its 1824 Constitution.It had two capitals: first Saltillo, and then Monclova...

, the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas
Constitution of the Republic of Texas
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas was written in 1836 between the fall of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio and Sam Houston's stunning victory at San Jacinto. The constitution was written quickly and while on the run from Santa Anna....

, the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, and 1869, and the current constitution, which took effect on February 15, 1876.

The current 1876 Constitution is among the longest of state constitution
State constitution (United States)
In the United States, each state has its own constitution.Usually, they are longer than the 7,500-word federal Constitution and are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently...

s in the United States; since its initial adoption, as of November 2011 a total of 653 amendments have been proposed, of which 474 were approved by voters and 179 were rejected.

Most of the amendments are due to the document's highly restrictive nature – the Texas Constitution states that the State of Texas has only those powers explicitly granted to it; there is no state equivalent of the Necessary and Proper Clause contained within.
Encyclopedia
The Constitution of the State of Texas is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of the U.S. State of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

.

Texas has had seven constitutions: the constitution of Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas
Coahuila y Tejas was one of the constituent states of the newly established United Mexican States under its 1824 Constitution.It had two capitals: first Saltillo, and then Monclova...

, the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas
Constitution of the Republic of Texas
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas was written in 1836 between the fall of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio and Sam Houston's stunning victory at San Jacinto. The constitution was written quickly and while on the run from Santa Anna....

, the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, and 1869, and the current constitution, which took effect on February 15, 1876.

The current 1876 Constitution is among the longest of state constitution
State constitution (United States)
In the United States, each state has its own constitution.Usually, they are longer than the 7,500-word federal Constitution and are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently...

s in the United States; since its initial adoption, as of November 2011 a total of 653 amendments have been proposed, of which 474 were approved by voters and 179 were rejected.

Most of the amendments are due to the document's highly restrictive nature – the Texas Constitution states that the State of Texas has only those powers explicitly granted to it; there is no state equivalent of the Necessary and Proper Clause contained within. Thus, the Texas Constitution functions as a limiting document. However, despite its length, it is not nearly as long as the Alabama Constitution
Alabama Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Alabama is the basic governing document of the U.S. state of Alabama. It was adopted in 1901 and is the sixth constitution that the state has had....

 (which has been amended almost 800 times despite having been adopted 25 years after Texas' current constitution) nor the California Constitution
California Constitution
The document that establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of California. The original constitution, adopted in November 1849 in advance of California attaining U.S. statehood in 1850, was superseded by the current constitution, which...

 (which, due to provisions allowing amendments via the initiative
Initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...

, is subject to frequent revision).

PREAMBLE

Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the people of the State of Texas, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Article 1: "Bill of Rights"

Article One is the Texas Constitution's bill of rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

. The article originally contained 29 sections; five sections have since been added. Most of the article's provisions concern specific fundamental limitations on the power of the state government and certain rights granted to citizens that cannot be ignored under any circumstances.
"All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient."
(Article 1, Section 2)

The provisions of the Texas constitution apply only against the government of Texas. However, a number of the provisions of the federal constitution are held to apply both to the states as well under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 to the federal constitution. This means that the Texas courts must interpret a duplicated state provision, such as the freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, at least as broadly as the federal courts do its federal counterpart. The Texas courts may (but are not required to) interpret the state provision more broadly, ruling that it limits government power more than its federal counterpart (Braden, 1972).

Section 4 prohibits office holders from the requirements of any religious test, provided they "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being". The latter requirement, as well as similar provisions in several other state constitutions, violates the First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 prohibition on establishment of religion and the free exercise thereof (which includes the right to not hold a religious belief), and more particularly violates Article VI
Article Six of the United States Constitution
Article Six of the United States Constitution establishes the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, forbids a religious test as a requirement for holding a governmental position and holds the United States under the...

, which prohibits any religious test for office. Since it would almost certainly be struck down by the federal courts if challenged, it has not been enforced in modern times.

Section 32 denies state recognition to same-sex unions. It was adopted in November 2005

Article 2: "The Powers of Government"

Provides for the separation of the powers of the government.
It also states that the government is not allowed to take over other governments. That all power must be separated equally between governments.

Article 3: "Legislative Department"

Article 3 vests the legislative power
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 of the state in the "Legislature of the State of Texas
Texas Legislature
The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The Legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin...

", and establishes that the legislature consists of the state Senate
Texas Senate
The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing 31 single-member districts across the state with populations of approximately 672,000 per constituency. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. The Senate meets at the...

 and House of Representatives
Texas House of Representatives
The Texas House of Representatives is the lower house of the Texas Legislature. The House is composed of 150 members elected from single-member districts across the state. The average district has about 150,000 people. Representatives are elected to two-year terms with no term limits...

. It also lists the qualifications required of senators and representatives and regulates the details of the legislative process. Finally, the article contains many substantive limitations on the power of the legislature and a large number of exceptions to those limitations. In particular, Section 49 limits the power of the legislature to incur debt, while numerous other sections following Section 49 (including two sections both curiously numbered as "49-n") permit the legislature to issue bonds for specific purposes. Section 66 created the state's "Rainy Day Fund".

As with the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, either house may originate bill
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

s (Section 31), but bills to raise revenue must originate in the House of Representatives (Section 33).

In addition, Section 49a requires the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is an executive branch position created by the Texas Constitution. As with nearly every other executive branch head, the Comptroller is popularly elected every four years concurrently with the Governor and the other elected executive branch positions...

 to certify the amount of available cash on hand and anticipated revenues for the next biennium; no appropriation may exceed this amount (except in cases of emergency and then only with a 4/5ths vote of both chambers), and the Comptroller is permitted to reject and return to the Legislature any appropriation in violation of this requirement.

Article 4: "Executive Department"

Describes the powers and duties of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the general land office, and attorney general. With the exception of the secretary of state the above officials are directly elected in what is known as a plural executive system; the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor (not as a team), as are other officials such as the Comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the general land office, and attorney general.

Under section 16 of this article, the Lieutenant-Governor automatically assumes the power of Governor if and when the Governor travels outside of the state of Texas, for whatever reason.

Article 5: "Judicial Department"

Describes the composition, powers, and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the District, County, and Commissioners Courts, and the Justice of the Peace Courts. See Texas judicial system
Texas judicial system
The structure of the Texas judicial system is laid out in Article 5 of the Texas Constitution, and is further defined under the Texas Government Code and, with regards to probate matters, under the Texas Probate Code....

 for comments regarding the complicated structure of the Texas court system.

Article 6: "Suffrage"

Denies voting rights to minors, felons, and people who are deemed mentally incompetent by a court (though the Legislature may make exceptions in the latter two cases). Describes rules for elections.

Article 7: "Education"

Establishes provisions for public schools, asylums, and universities. ". . . it shall be DUTY OF THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools" (Article 7, Texas Constitution). This issue has surfaced in recent lawsuits involving the State's funding of education and restrictions it has placed on local school districts.

This Article also discusses the creation and maintenance of the Permanent University Fund
Permanent University Fund
The Permanent University Fund is one of the methods by which the State of Texas funds public higher education within the state. A portion of the returns from the PUF are annually directed towards the Available University Fund , which distributes the funds according to provisions set forth by the...

 (Sections 11, 11a, and 11b) and mandates the establishment of "a University of the first class" (Section 10, today's University of Texas) as well as an agricultural and mechanical college (Section 13, today's Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University is a coeducational public research university located in College Station, Texas . It is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System. The sixth-largest university in the United States, A&M's enrollment for Fall 2011 was over 50,000 for the first time in school...

, which opened seven years prior to UT). (Interestingly, Section 13 calls for A&M to be a branch of UT; in practice the two schools have always been separate and are today the flagship institutions of their respective University Systems.) Section 14 discusses Prairie View A&M and places it under the governance of Texas A&M.

Article 8: "Taxation and Revenue"

Article 8 places various restrictions on the ability of the Legislature and local governments to impose taxes
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

. Most of these restrictions concern local property taxes
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

. (Section 1-e prohibits statewide property taxes.)

Texas does not have a personal income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

. Section 24 of the article, added by an amendment adopted in 1993, restricts the ability of the Legislature to impose such a tax. Under the section, a law imposing a personal income tax must be ratified in a statewide referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 to take effect; any further change in the tax must also be ratified to take effect, if it would increase the "collective liability" of all persons subject to the tax. The proceeds from the tax must first be used to reduce local school property taxes, with any remainder being used for the support of education
Public education
State schools, also known in the United States and Canada as public schools,In much of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, the terms 'public education', 'public school' and 'independent school' are used for private schools, that is, schools...

.

No such restriction exists on imposition of a corporate income tax or similar tax; in May 2006 the Legislature replaced the existing franchise tax with a gross receipts tax.

Article 9: "Counties"

Provides rules for the creation of counties and determining the location of county seats. It also includes several provisions regarding the creation of county-wide hospital districts in specified counties, as well as other miscellaneous provisions regarding airports and mental health.

Article 10: "Railroads"

Contains a single section declaring that railroads are considered "public highways" and railroad carriers "common carriers". (This section may not have much force of law, as railroad operations, even those where a railroad physically exists in only one state, are governed by the Surface Transportation Board
Surface Transportation Board
The Surface Transportation Board of the United States is a bipartisan, decisionally-independent adjudicatory body organizationally housed within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The STB was established in 1996 to assume some of the regulatory functions that had been administered by the...

, a federal agency.) Eight other sections were repealed in 1969.

Article 11: "Municipal Corporations"

Recognizes counties as legal political subunits of the State, grants certain powers to cities and counties, empowers the legislature to form school districts.

Sections 4 and 5 discuss the operation of cities based on population. Section 4 states that a city with a population of 5,000 or fewer has only those powers granted to it by general law. Section 5 permits a city, once its population exceeds 5,000, to adopt a charter under home rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 provided the charter is not inconsistent with limits placed by the Texas Constitution or general law. The city may amend maintain home rule status even if its population subsequently falls to 5,000 or fewer. The Constitution does not grant home rule privileges to counties or other special districts. As such, Texas operates primarily under Dillon's Rule.

Article 12: "Private Corporations"

Article 12 contains two sections directing the legislature to enact general laws for the creation of private corporations and prohibiting the creation of private corporations by special law. Four other sections were repealed in 1969 and a fifth section in 1993.

Article 13: "Spanish and Mexican Land Titles"

Established provisions for Spanish and Mexican land titles; These titles were from the Mexican War Era as a way of trying to please the Mexican government. This article was repealed in its entirety in 1969.

Article 14: "Public Lands and Land Office"

Article 14 contains a single section establishing the General Land Office and the office of commissioner of the General Land Office. Seven other sections were repealed in 1969.

Article 15: "Impeachment"

Describes the process of impeachment and lists grounds on which to impeach judges. The House of Representatives is granted the power of impeachment.

Article 16: "General Provisions"

Contains miscellaneous provisions, including limits on interest rates, civil penalties for murder, and the punishment for bribery.

Section 15 provides that Texas is a community property
Community property
Community property is a marital property regime that originated in civil law jurisdictions and is now also found in some common law jurisdictions...

 state.

Section 28 prohibits garnishment
Garnishment
A garnishment is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party to pay money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff...

 of wages, except for spousal maintenance and child support
Child support
In family law and public policy, child support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship...

 payments (however, this does not limit Federal garnishment for items such as student loan payments or income taxes).

Section 37 provides for the constitutional protection of the mechanic's lien.

Section 50 provides for protection of a homestead against forced sale to pay debts, except for foreclosure on debts related to the homestead (mortgage, taxes, mechanic's liens, and home equity loans). This section also limits the amount of a home equity loan, when combined with all other loans against a home, to no more than 80 percent of the home's fair market value at the time of the loan. It also requires that the advance on a home equity line of credit be at least $4,000 (though nothing prohibits a borrower from immediately repaying the credit line with a portion of said advance).

Although Texas is a right-to-work state, such protections are governed by law; Texas does not have a constitutional provision related to right-to-work.

Article 17: "Mode of amending the Constitution of this State"

Notwithstanding the large number of amendments (and proposed amendments) that the constitution has had since its inception, the only method of amending the constitution prescribed by Article 17 is via the legislature, subject to voter approval. The constitution does not provide for amendment by initiative, constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

, or any other means. A 1974 constitutional convention required the voters to amend the Constitution to add a separate section to this Article; the section was later repealed in 1999.

The section also prescribes specific details for notifying the public of elections to approve amendments. It requires that the legislature publish a notice in officially approved newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s that briefly summarizes each amendment and shows how each amendment will be described on the ballot. It also requires that the full text of each amendment be posted at each county courthouse at least 50 days (but no sooner than 60 days) before the election date.

Once an amendment passes it is compiled into the existing framework (i.e., text is either added or deleted), unlike the United States Constitution.

Attempts at Revision

Because of the unwieldiness of the state constitution, there have been attempts to draft a new constitution or to significantly revise the existing one:
  • The most successful of the attempts took place in 1969, when 56 separate obsolete provisions (including the entirety of Article 13 and 22 entire sections from Articles 10, 12, and 14) were successfully repealed.
  • In 1971 the Texas Legislature placed on the November 1972 ballot an Amendment which called for the Legislature to meet in January 1974 for 90 days as a constitutional convention
    Constitutional convention (political meeting)
    A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

    , for purposes of drafting a new state Constitution. The measure passed (thus adding Section 2 to Article 17; the section was later repealed in November 1999) and the Legislature met. However, even with an additional 60 days added to the session, the convention failed by a mere three votes to propose a new constitution.
  • In 1975, the Legislature, meeting in regular session, revived much of the work of the 1974 convention and proposed it as a set of eight amendments to the existing constitution. All eight of the amendments were overwhelmingly rejected by the voters (in 250 of the state's 254 counties, all eight amendments were defeated; only in Duval and Webb
    Webb County, Texas
    Webb County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. The official 2010 population for the county is 250,304. In 2000, its population was 193,117, and in 2006 its population had been estimated to have reached to 231,470. Its county seat is Laredo...

     counties did all eight amendments pass).
  • In 1979 the Legislature placed on the ballot four amendments which had their origins in the 1974 convention; of which three were approved by the voters:
    • One amendment created a single property tax "appraisal district" in each county (for purposes of providing a single appraised value for all property in a county; previously, each taxing authority could assess property at dissimilar values)
    • Another amendment gave to the Texas Court of Appeals criminal appellate jurisdiction (previously, the Courts had jurisdiction over civil matters only; though death penalty cases still bypass this level)
    • The last amendment gave the Governor of Texas
      Governor of Texas
      The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

       limited authority to remove appointed statewide officials
  • In 1995, Senator John Montford drafted a streamlined constitution similar to the 1974 version. However, Montford resigned his seat to become chancellor of the Texas Tech University System
    Texas Tech University System
    The Texas Tech University System consists of three universities, Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Angelo State University. Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University HSC together operate thirteen campuses, eleven of which are located in Texas. The...

    , and his initiative subsequently died. Later that year, though, voters approved an amendment abolishing the office of State Treasurer
    Texas State Treasurer
    Texas State Treasurer was a political office in the U.S. state of Texas, established in the Constitution of 1876. It was abolished in 1996.-History:...

     and moving its duties to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
    Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
    The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is an executive branch position created by the Texas Constitution. As with nearly every other executive branch head, the Comptroller is popularly elected every four years concurrently with the Governor and the other elected executive branch positions...

     office.
  • In 1998, a bipartisan effort (led by Republican Senator Bill Ratliff
    Bill Ratliff
    William Roark Ratliff, known as Bill Ratliff , is a Texas politician who served as a member of the Texas State Senate from 1988 to 2004. Between 2000 and 2003 he served as Lieutenant Governor of Texas, after former lieutenant governor Rick Perry succeeded to the governorship to replace George W...

     and Democratic Representative Rob Junell) produced a rewritten constitution, with the help of students from Angelo State University
    Angelo State University
    Angelo State University is a public, coeducational, doctoral level degree-granting university located in San Angelo, Texas, United States. It was founded in 1928 as San Angelo College. It gained University status and awarded its first baccalaureate degrees in 1967 and graduate degrees in 1969, the...

     (Junell's district included the San Angelo area). The second draft was submitted to the 76th Legislature, but failed to gain support in committee.

See also

  • Texas Declaration of Independence
    Texas Declaration of Independence
    The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and formally signed the following day after errors were noted in the...

  • Constitution of the Republic of Texas
    Constitution of the Republic of Texas
    The Constitution of the Republic of Texas was written in 1836 between the fall of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio and Sam Houston's stunning victory at San Jacinto. The constitution was written quickly and while on the run from Santa Anna....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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