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Texas State Constitution: Shortcomings and Solutions to a Number of Important Issues

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There are a variety of purposes for a state constitution. The central focus is to characterize the principles of society and states. It also recommends political objectives for the good of citizens. They do this by plotting the specific foundations that individuals will use to accomplish their goals, and by stating who can participate in political decisions and who can be elected for public office. It also describes the alliance between the government and the governed and sets restrictions to what a group can do and what it cannot. In addition, the constitution could resolve any issue through institutional arrangements. Lastly, it conveys the structure of the state and local governments and labels its powers and limitations. A well-constructed constitution should be brief, provide general principles as well as an essential government structure, and assist for orderly change. In this case, the Texas Constitution of 1876 does not fulfill the purpose of a state constitution for the following reasons. 

The Texas Constitution of 1876 is loaded heavily with unnecessary and confusing detail with over 9,000 pages. It has also required frequent modifications to meet a certain criterion. On top of that, it has been amended over 491 times. When it was written it was constitutional legislation instead of a general principle, which portrayed distrust in government all around Texas. The current Texas Constitution was ratified in February 1876, it has many strengths as well as weaknesses, with revisions made to it. The Texas Constitution of 1876 has been criticized for the inequitable public education system. The public school system is decentralized, meaning that local officials were given the essential responsibility of supervising public education which lead to injustices. Another weakness of the constitution is that it cannot be easily addressed for changing state needs, therefore it requires a balanced state budget. Surprisingly, the constitution was utilized to slow democratic development in Texas. This was done by restricting the individual rights for African Americans and other groups from participating in elections. 

In addition, the constitution carries extra detail with over 9,000 pages. Constitutional amendments have been occasionally endorsed to fix the constitution, but the issues remain. Another very important criticism, is that the various restrictions and prohibitions in the constitution require significant amendments to allow state government to adapt to changes, such as social, economic, and political. However, the constitution is not only filled with criticism and weaknesses, over the years it has enabled the state government to address political needs. Groups attempted to protect their interest through constitutional amendments but have failed. In summation, this procedure has had some achievements in modernizing the document, although some structural issues of state government require significant changes. The reason being is that the voters rejected any proposal for constitutional amendments, therefore the voter turnout election was very low. A quote from the text that supports my claim is that “a minority of legislators—dubbed “cockroaches” by convention President Daniel—did not want a new constitution and attempted to delay or obstruct the convention’s work at every opportunity”. The historical reasons for the way the current constitution is composed is that it was selected at the end of Reconstruction and changed multiple times since. It included limitations on elections and civil rights that were turned down. 

In addition, this constitution was composed to place strict limitations on the powers of the governor, the legislature, and other state authorities. The Texas Constitution is a good example of how limits can be placed on the power of a state government because it includes the three branches of Texas of Government, such as legislative, executive, and judicial. Consequently, a system called checks and balances was created so no branch could overrule or become too powerful. The legislative branch has a 150-member House of Representatives and a 31-member Senate, they meet biennially in unusual numbered years and have important meetings that can only be called by the governor. On the contrary, the executive branch is a system in which an elected governor shares authority with officeholders that are chosen independently. In Texas, the plural executive is utilized which places strict limitations on the governor’s power. Lastly, in the judicial branch, almost all judges are elected with restricted jurisdiction at the county level. On top of that, Texas has two courts, the first one is the Supreme court which handles civil matters, and the last one is the Court of Criminal Appeals which handles criminal cases.

Furthermore, there are three ways a national government might relate to its regional governments, such as federal, conferral, and unitary. Interestingly, every one of the fundamental systems has been used in the United States in different time periods. The unitary system enables the national government the power to create and to impose restrictions to the local or regional governments. In Texas, the unitary system is utilized to portray the association between the state and local governments. On the contrary, the confederal system is based on the individual states that retain sovereignty, and the authority of the national government is limited. 

Former to the Constitution of 1789 this fundamental system was applied in the United States. The U.S. Constitution utilizes the federal system the most because it balances the powers and sovereignty between the national and state governments. They also obtain authority from the people. A political scientist might state that a federal system is part of the checks and balances put in place by those who wrote the U.S. Constitution because in the federal system, the national government and state governments have distinct powers and responsibilities. Until this day, we are still trying to define federalism because the relationships between federal, state, and local governments keep changing. Interestingly, there is a nickname for dual federalism which is “layer cake” and it is a metaphor for the theory of intergovernmental relations. It was given this nickname because in the nineteenth century from 1790 to the 1930s there was a concept in which the powers of both the national and state governments were distinguished with limited overlapping duties. 

Metaphorically the layer cake illustrates that the authorities and programs are split into pieces among federal, state, and local levels of government. On a side note, one of the federal grants is the categorical grant-in-aid, it is federal money that can only be spent on certain benefits. Furthermore, this is the fountain of most federal help to state and local governments. There are two types of categorical grants, one of them is the project grant. It submits proposals from the state and local governments to federal agencies and competes against others for the funds. There are a lot of these grants’ programs ranging from one thing to another, as in airport construction to youth programs. The formula grant is the other categorical grant, it is designated to states and local governments based on certain conditions, such as income levels or the state’s population. An example of this, is Medicaid, the Congress determines the specific requirements people must qualify to receive such service. It is also important to note that many of these federal grants demand matching funds. One of the reasons being is that it encourages the state and local governments to be devoted to their programs. On the contrary, the block grants are completely different from the categorical grants. This is because President Nixon wanted to diminish the role of the federal government, so he consolidates them into block grants. Block grants are broader and give the states and local governments more freedom with the funds. The last federal grant President Nixon proposed was revenue sharing, in which state and local governments accepted federal aid that could be utilized for all intents.

Additionally, the county government is immensely divided with administrative powers unified by numerous of chosen officials, such as the county judge, the four commissioners, the district and county clerks, the tax assessor-collector, the sheriff, and constables. The county commissioner’s court is the main administering body and has a lot of responsibilities, it shares administrative functions with other independently elected officials, a few of them are to set tax rates and approve county expenditures. Moreover, the county commissioner’s court holds four elected commissioners and an elected county judge who serves a four-year term. The responsibilities of a county judge are to direct the commissioner’s court, it is necessary for them to engage in the court’s discussions and to vote on issues. They have some judicial responsibilities, but they’re not required to be a lawyer. Additionally, a county clerk keeps up records and important information, such as birth and death records and documents related to real estate transactions. On the other hand, a district clerk maintains in custody court documents and records. A county attorney serves as a prosecutor to minor criminal offenses such as misdemeanors in the county courts. They can also give legitimate guidance to open authorities. Contrastingly, the district attorney prosecutes the more consequential crimes, such as felonies in the district courts. 

The assessor-collector of taxes collects property taxes and other state taxes and fees. They are also responsible in appraising property or figuring out its value. Sheriffs have countrywide authority, most of them are very discreet when hiring, promoting, and when firing workers. They perform as the administrative officers for the district and county courts. Constables’ crucial function is to serve as administrative officers of the justice of the peace courts. However, they also have other duties such as patrolling their areas, arresting people, and leading criminal examinations. The statement “Texas counties serve as an administrative arm of the state” means helping the community out by issuing birth records, death records, documents related to real estate transactions, marriage licenses, and various other licenses required by state law. The state constitution provides the legislature the ability to create, abolish, or alter counties. It also imposes specific requirements like its size and the proximity of its boundaries to the county seat of the county from which it is created. Therefore, the state constitution and the legislature are the ones in charge of the county government. Home rule cities can implement any type of government residents choose if it does not interfere with the state constitution. Unfortunately, in Texas, the government counties lack the basic legislative power of enacting ordinances. This affects the county operations because their only allowed to function when granted by the state.

The Texas population has grown significantly and continues to do so. Unfortunately, there are not many Native American Tribes because of the mix of government and state policies of Mirabeau B. Lamar who wanted to exterminate them. There are only 3 tribes left that live in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta, Tigua, and Kickapoo, which make up 1 percent of the state’s total population. Furthermore, the Kickapoos opened a restricted casino in Eagle Pass yet the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua have been denied the privilege to run casinos on their reservations in 2015. In the 1820s and 1830s, Hispanics became a small minority of the population in Texas because of the rapid increase of Anglo immigration. The population of Hispanics had dropped to 4 percent in 1887. However, it then started to increase going up to 12 percent, and later to 18 percent, until it got to 25 percent in 1990. Hispanics keep significantly growing at a rapid pace, making them the second-largest demographic group in Texas. 

By 2014 their state population increased up to 38.6 percent. Surprisingly, by the year 2042, it is predicted that the population rate will go up to 50 percent for Hispanics. Currently, 8 Hispanics have been designated for statewide office. In another note, African Americans landed in Texas as slaves; even though slavery ended with the Civil War, they still witness a long history of discrimination politically and economically. In the post–Civil Rights era, the population of African Americans had increased because of the cotton cultivation and the slavery system. But that number had declined to 30 percent after the war and ended at 12 percent by the 1960s. In addition, that percentage was also the same statistic the 2010 census had recorded for that year. In the 2020 census, African Americans are foreseen to represent 11 percent and 12 percent of the state’s population. Lastly, the largest demographic group is the Anglos. The Anglos from Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina moved to Texas in the early nineteenth century, they established the individualistic subculture. In 2014, the population for Anglos was 43.4 percent, regardless of whether their development keeps on expanding, their share of the absolute populace will keep on diminishing. The composition of the state’s population has transformed significantly since the 1860s. Lately, a portion of these differences in wealth and income has become more noticeable among the different racial groups in Texas. This is because Hispanics and African Americans encounter the lowest economic success, they are more likely to earn lower income than Anglos or Asian Americans. In 2014 the income households of 33 percent of African Americans and 30 percent of Hispanics reported under $25,000. Conversely, Asian Americans and Anglos have encountered the most economic success. 

In addition, 38 percent of Asian Americans and 31 percent of Anglo’s reported income households of over $100,000. Many Texans live in poor conditions, the Hispanics are the majority that live in poverty compared to any other racial group, except for household income. The median income for households of African Americans was $42,582, and for Hispanics, it was $,44,579. Furthermore, the Anglos also suffer from poverty, but the rates are drastically much lower than those of Hispanics. Unfortunately, children end up being the most affected from the levels of poverty, especially those who are Hispanic or African Americans, or live in a single-parent household. 

In conclusion, even though the state’s economic development over the past decade has diminished poverty in some degree, researchers worry that poverty is probably going to deteriorate if the issues are not attended to. On another note, education demonstrates how Texas competes in a new global economy. The crisis that Texas is having with literacy and education is because it has not been sufficiently funded, and the state’s ability to fix it will interpret the financial welfare of many citizens. Ever since 1990, education achievement has positively improved for all racial groups in Texas. Despite that, there are still large differences among the three racial groups. To be more specific, most Anglos have high school diplomas, and more than one-third earned college degrees. On the contrary, 62.5 percent of the Hispanics earned a high school diploma and very few earned college diplomas. Most African Americans earned a high school diploma, but the percentage of college degrees remains low. These changes affect policies because without anyone addressing the changes that are going on in public schools and long-lasting economic opportunities, it will become a possibility that the state’s households will go below the poverty level by 2030, by about 20 percent. This will harshly affect the minorities that are already having income problems. In conclusion, education helps form a part of an individual’s life, people that are more educated are likely to politically participate.   

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Texas State Constitution: Shortcomings and Solutions to a Number of Important Issues. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/texas-state-constitution-shortcomings-and-solutions-to-a-number-of-important-issues/
“Texas State Constitution: Shortcomings and Solutions to a Number of Important Issues.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/texas-state-constitution-shortcomings-and-solutions-to-a-number-of-important-issues/
Texas State Constitution: Shortcomings and Solutions to a Number of Important Issues. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/texas-state-constitution-shortcomings-and-solutions-to-a-number-of-important-issues/> [Accessed 27 Jun. 2022].
Texas State Constitution: Shortcomings and Solutions to a Number of Important Issues [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2022 Jun 27]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/texas-state-constitution-shortcomings-and-solutions-to-a-number-of-important-issues/
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