Political Science Essays on Texas Legislative and Executive Branches

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by population and is located in the south central region. The state is governed by a constitution adopted in 1876 that stipulates a unitary democratic state government operating under the presidential system and county governments. Additionally, its legislative branch is bicameral and comprises of two houses, the Senate and House of Representatives. The former consists of 31 senators elected on a four-year term while the House of Representative comprises of 150 members elected on a two-year term (“Research Guides: How A Bill Becomes A Law: Texas Bills”). The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch and is elected on a four-year term. Powers instituted on the governor allow him to initiate legislation, call special legislative sessions, veto bills, and power to appoint boards and commissions. However, the official’s powers are restricted through numerous elected executive boards and officials.

The executive branch encompasses the Governor, lieutenant governor, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner, the State Board of Education, three members of the Texas Railroad Commission, the Secretary of State, Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Attorney General (“Texas Politics – The Executive Branch”). Texas operates under a plural executive branch system, which functions to limit the powers of the Governor. The primary roles of the executive branch include implementing and administering public policy enacted and funded by the legislative branch, which is responsible for passing state laws and appropriation of resources for the administration of public policy. As check on legislative powers, the state constitution gives veto power to the chief officer of the executive, in this case, the governor. The veto powers empower the governor to pass an entire bill from the legislature. The veto process is very formal and time-bound. Just like the legislature, time for a bill is also limited on the governor’s end. Once the governor has vetoed a bill, it is returned to the chamber for reconsideration.

The legislative branch includes both the House and the Senate. Under the state constitution, the legislature is given extensive powers as the only branch that can create laws or change existing laws(“Delegation Of Legislative Power”). Once a bill has been passed through the parliament, it proceeds to the governor, who signs it into law. The executive checks the legislative branch by allocating veto powers to the governor. However, the legislature can override the veto authority of the governor if two-thirds majorities of both houses support a motion. The assembly is responsible for appropriating money necessary to run government operations.

The constitution, the applicable statutes, and rules of procedures of the Senate and the House of representatives administer the legislative process. Different phases of the process occur on prescribed schedules. Two presiding officers control the lawmaking process in Texas, the lieutenant governor for the Senate and the Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives on procedural and institutional powers. The bills are first introduced by a member of the legislature on the floor of the house or by writing to the secretary of the Senate or clerk of the House (“Unit 2 Lecture Notes – Texas State And Local Government”). The presiding officer then forwards the bill to a standing committee for consideration. The committee action places the proposed legislation on their agenda and calendar. Then, standing committee schedules hearings on the proposed laws and later report on the suitability or unsuitability of the bill. The bill is then referred back to the floor for reconsideration. During this stage, the legislature proposes amendments to a bill, changes, or a motion to send the bill back to the committee. Once a bill is cleared through a debate, a third reading is instituted and a vote taken.  For a proposed law to proceed to the opposite house for discussion, it must attain a simple majority of 50%+1 vote. The other house adopts the bills for review. The house can propose amendments or send it back without changes. If there changes are proposed, the bill goes back to the conference committee. However, if no changes are submitted, the bill proceeds to the governor for action.

The Texas law making process is adequate in that it allows for separation of roles of the two houses as well as the arms of government. While the legislature possess powers of creating and changing laws, the executive enforces its authority by determining its efficiency. While house processes are efficient, inadequacy emerges on the time limits applied on each development stage, a thing the legislature should consider revising to allow time for consultation with different players.



Works Cited

“Delegation Of Legislative Power”. Ncsl.Org, 2019, http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/delegation-of-legislative-power.aspx. Accessed 30 Mar 2019.

“Research Guides: How A Bill Becomes A Law: Texas Bills”. Shsulibraryguides.Org, 2018, https://shsulibraryguides.org/c.php?g=351551&p=2370494. Accessed 30 Mar 2019.

“Texas Politics – The Executive Branch”. Web.Archive.Org, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20080418013806/http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu/html/exec/0900.html. Accessed 30 Mar 2019.

“Unit 2 Lecture Notes – Texas State And Local Government”. Csr.Utexas.Edu, 2006, http://www.csr.utexas.edu/personal/williams/unit-2-lecture-notes-tx-online-spring2006.htm. Accessed 30 Mar 2019.