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Encyclopedia > Texas Constitution

The Texas Constitution is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of Texas. Texas has had six constitutions: the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1876. This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Charles Darwin 1836 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... The 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas was written between the fall of the Alamo and Sam Houstons stunning victory at San Jacinto. ... 1876 (MDCCCLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ...


The 1876 constitution, which took effect on February 15, is the current constitution of Texas. Texas' Constitution is the one of the longest state constitutions in the United States, and one of the oldest still in effect. February 15 is the 46th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... In the context of the United States of America, a state constitution is the governing document of a U.S. state, comparable to the U.S. Constitution which is the governing document of the United States. ...


Because of the constitution's restrictive nature, it has been amended more han 400 times. Almost all expansions to the authority of the state must come through constitutional amendment, not statute, because the constitution restricts the authority of state government to those powers specifically granted to it; there is no Necessary-and-Proper Clause to facilitate controversial legislation. However, although long and chaotic, it nowhere near approaches the size and chaos of the Alabama Constitution (which has been amended 771 times despite having been enacted 25 years after Texas' Constitution) nor that of the California Constitution (Texas does not have a provision for the initiative and, thus, has avoided the problems with which California has had to deal in this arena). The Necessary and Proper Clause (also known as the elastic clause) refers to Article One Section 8 paragraph 18 of the United States Constitution: The interpretation of this phrase has been controversial, especially during the early years of the republic. ... The Alabama Constitution is the basic governing document of the U.S. state of Alabama. ... The California Constitution is the document that establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of California. ... In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizens initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. ...


Because of the unwieldiness of the state constitution, there have been several proposals for a constitutional convention to propose a new constitution. In 1974, the Texas Legislature met in joint session as a convention, but failed 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 rejected by the voters. There have been several subsequent proposals to revise the constitution, but none of those efforts has been successful. A constitutional convention is a gathering of delegates for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday. ...

Contents


Articles of the Texas Constitution

Article 1: "Bill of Rights"

Article One is the Texas Constitution's bill of rights. The article originally contained 29 sections; since 1876, five sections have been added. Most of the article's provisions concern specific fundamental limitations on the power of the state government. A bill of rights is a statement of certain rights which, under a societys laws, citizens and/or residents either have, want to have, or ought to have. ...


Many of the rights-related provisions of the federal constitution have counterparts in Article One. Every provision of the first ten amendments to the federal constitution—the United States Bill of Rights—has such a counterpart. Several other provisions from the main body of the federal constitution, such as its prohibitions of ex post facto laws and bills of attainder, also have counterparts. The provisions in the Texas constitution, however, are generally wordier and more particularistic than their federal counterparts. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... Image of the United States Bill of Rights from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. ... An ex post facto law (from the Latin for from something done afterward) or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed or the legal status of facts and relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. ... A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) is an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime, and punishing them, without benefit of a trial. ...


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 to the federal constitution. This means that the Texas courts must interpret a duplicated state provision, such as the freedom of speech, 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). Due process of law is a legal concept that ensures the government will respect all of a persons legal rights instead of just some or most of those legal rights, when the government deprives a person of life, liberty, or property. ... The Fourteenth Amendment may refer to the: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution - contains the due process and equal protection clauses. ... A public anti-war demonstration in Liverpool, England Freedom of speech is the concept of being able to speak freely without censorship. ...


Section 4 prohibits office holders from the requirements of any religious test, provided they "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being". The latter requirement appears to contradict a prohibition on any kind of religious test located in Article 6 of the federal constitution. Since it would almost certainly be struck down by the federal courts if challenged, it is rarely (if ever) enforced. Article Six establishes the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, and fulfills other purposes. ...


Section 32 comprises Texas' Defense of marriage amendment, adopted in November 2005. Defense of marriage amendments are U.S. state constitutional amendments that have been proposed, and in some instances adopted, to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. ...


Article 2: "The Powers of Government"

Provides for the separation of the powers of the government.


Article 3: "Legislative Department"

Describes the composition of the Legislature and the qualifications for service therein. Describes the legislative process. States the powers granted and denied to the Legislature.


Unlike the United States Constitution, which states that bills to raise revenue may originate only in the House, Section 31 states that any bill may originate in either chamber. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ...


In addition, Section 49a requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts 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; the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor (not as a team).


Article 5: "Judicial Department"

Describes the composition, powers, and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals, the District, County, and Commissioners Courts, and the Justice of the Peace Courts. See Texas judicial system for comments regarding the complicated structure of the Texas court system. The Texas judicial system has been called one of the most complex in the United States, if not the world. ...


Article 6: "Suffrage"

Denies voting rights to minors, felons, and people who are deemed mentally incompentent 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. The Permanent University Fund (PUF) is one of the ways the state of Texas funds its universities. ...


Article 8: "Taxation and Revenue"

Permits the Legislature to impose certain taxes and exempts certain facilities from taxation and revenue.


Texas does not have a personal income tax. In order to prevent the Legislature from unilaterally imposing such a tax, in November 1993 the voters approved an amendment (Section 24) which places restrictions on any future imposition of such a tax. The major restrictions are as follows: The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

  • The initial imposition of such tax must be approved by the voters in a state-wide referendum.
  • Any change in the tax (whether the rate, income levels, or otherwise) resulting in an increase to the "collective liability" of all persons subject to such tax, must also be approved by the voters.
  • Any tax, if ever approved, is limited to use in funding education.

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. A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, a decree of the Concilium Plebis) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ...


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: "Rail Roads"

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, a federal agency.) Eight other sections were repealed in 1969. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) was created by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 at the same time the Interstate Commerce Commission was destroyed. ...


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.


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 1993.


Article 13: "Spanish and Mexican Land Titles"

Established provisions for Spanish and Mexican land titles; 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. Six 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 28 prohibits garnishment of wages, except for spousal maintenance and child support payments (however, this does not limit Federal garnishment for items such as student loan payments or income taxes). A garnishment is a means of collecting a judgment for money in which some third person (the garnishee) is ordered to pay money to the plaintiff which the garnishee owes to the defendant. ... In many countries, child support is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, for the care and support of children of a relationship or marriage that has broken down. ...


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

Describes the procedure for amending the constitution.


Texas does not have a provision for the initiative and therefore amendments may be proposed only by the Legislature. Amendments require 2/3rds vote of both chambers (the Governor neither signs nor vetoes them), two publications of the proposed amendment in a newspaper approved for state government notices (normally the newspaper of record), and a majority vote of the people. In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizens initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. ... In politics, Governor of Texas is the title given to the chief executive of the state of Texas. ... A newspaper of record is a colloquial term that generally refers to a newspaper that meets one (or both) of two criteria: high standards of journalism, the articles of which establish a definitive record of current events, for use by future scholars, and/or compliance with the legal requirements necessary...


Unlike other states, Texas does not a limitation for a single subject in amendments to its constitution.


References

  • Braden, George D. (1972). Citizens' guide to the Texas Constitution. Austin: Texas Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.
  • Hill, John L. (1976). Constitution of the State of Texas. Austin: [Office of the Attorney General of Texas].
    • Includes the text of the constitution as of November 2, 1976, along with a brief informational introduction.

November 2 is the 306th day of the year (307th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 59 days remaining. ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ...

See also

The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. ... The 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas was written between the fall of the Alamo and Sam Houstons stunning victory at San Jacinto. ...

External links

  • The Texas Constitution: Current text of the constitution, provided by the Texas Legislative Council
  • Texas Politics: Texas government resource provided by the University of Texas at Austin
  • Texas Treasures - Texas Constitution: Images of the original 1876 Constitution, provided by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Constitution of the Republic, 1836 from Gammel's Laws of Texas, Vol. I. hosted by the Portal to Texas History.
  • Constitution of the State of Texas, 1861 from Gammel's Laws of Texas, Vol. V. hosted by the Portal to Texas History.
  • Constitution of the State of Texas, 1866 from Gammel's Laws of Texas, Vol. V. hosted by the Portal to Texas History.
  • Texas Constitutions Digitization Project: Electronic texts of the various Texas constitutions, including the original, unamended text of the 1876 constitution
  • Texas Legislative Research Library - Constitutional amendments search: A search engine that retrieves summaries of proposed amendments, both adopted and defeated
Constitutions of the U.S. States and Territories
States Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Territories American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Puerto Rico | United States Virgin Islands

  Results from FactBites:
 
Texas Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1514 words)
The Texas Constitution is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of Texas.
Texas has had six constitutions: the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1876.
Texas' Constitution is the one of the longest state constitutions in the United States, and one of the oldest still in effect.
Texas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (7497 words)
Texas boasts that "Six Flags" have flown over its soil: the Fleur-de-lis of France, and the national flags of Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.
It is mostly sedimentary rocks, with east Texas underlain by a Cretaceous and younger sequence of sediments, the trace of ancient shorelines east and south until the active continental margin of the Gulf of Mexico is met.
Texas is known for its love of American football and is noted for the intensity with which people follow high school and college football teams—often times dominating over all else for the purposes of socializing and leisure.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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