American Democracy : Texas Arm of Government - Essay Prowess

American Democracy : Texas Arm of Government

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American Democracy

Most Powerful Texas Arm of Government

The Texas government is made up of three crucial arms, which are very critical in providing checks and balances for the welfare of the citizens in the state. The first arm of the government is the legislature, which is made up of up of 150 members of people representatives in the Lower House and 31 members who legislate at the Texas senate (Geer, Schiller & Segal, 2013). Under the Texas system, the second arm of government is the executive, which executes the laws made by the legislature. The executive is headed by the governor, who executes the powers as delegated by the legislature in the collection of taxes, law enforcement, and appointment of state officers, among other duties. Roles of the executive as spelled out under the Texas constitution is to run the daily affairs of the state. The governor has the powers to control the state forces and approve or veto bills presented to him from the legislature with reasons and recommendations. The third arm of government is the judicial branch, which is mandated with the interpretation of laws as passed by the legislature. The highest court in the system is the supreme court of Texas, which determines the civil cases. The court of appeal handles criminal cases. The judiciary may arm of government may not be as large as other arms but plays a critical role as the custodian of the federal and state laws. They ensure fairness and justice in the execution of their functions.

The legislature is the most powerful arm of the Texas government based on the analysis of the other arms of government. The legislature is made up of people representatives; hence, their resolutions are abiding by other arms of the government. The social contract demands that the government power must originate from people who may exercise them directly or through representation. It is for this reason that the state legislative body seems to have the sole role of making laws that govern the state. The legislature makes laws that the executive must implement, and the judiciary role is to interpret those laws. The state is governed through the rule of law, meaning no one is above the laws made by the legislature, and all must derive powers and privileges from the laws. The legislature makes laws to govern taxation and the expenditure of the taxes. The budgetary allocation is made in the legislature through a rigorous and consultative process upon which ends up with the approval of the entire state budget. The executive cannot use any money collected from taxes without seeking approval of the money from the legislature. The legislature also provides an oversight role to other arms of government. State officers from other arms of government who behave contrary to the laws and ethical leadership, as outlined in the relevant laws, are removed from the office through impeachment.

The functions and powers given to legislature are, however, not absolute since they are subjected to checks and balances from the executive and judiciary. A case in point is the governor veto powers that allow for the rejection of the bill passed by the legislature. The judiciary might also render certain actions of legislature unconstitutional. It is, therefore, providing the checks and balances according to principles set out by the drafters of the constitution. Despite the checks and balances as provided in the law, the legislature seems to dominate all other branches of government. Its influential role is portrayed by the fact that they have the privileges to change laws governing the state and remove or reorganize some powers from other arms of government. The legislative body also passes resolutions on authorizing the government on which areas they need to spend more, including the limit of borrowing. The executive only executes powers as outlined by the legislature. The judiciary has no powers to make law, and the institution and conduct of its members are also appointed and vetted by the legislative arm of government. The legislative arm of government has powers to impeach the governor as the head of the executive on the grounds of corruption, fraud, gross misconduct, or abuse of office. Any other powers not conferred by the federal constitution belongs to the people, and the state representatives are mandated to make relevant legislation whenever such matters arise. Members of the judiciary may also be removed from office through the legislative arm of the government on similar grounds of corruption or abuse of office in the execution of their mandate. However, on the other hand, the elected legislative members are only removed from office through popular intuitive by the electorates. Hence, the executive or the judiciary has no power to fire them from the office.

Texas redistricting 2003

The events leading to controversies around 2003 redistricting of Texas had just started after the 1990 census. The democrats had the control of the state by then had won the majority of seats in both legislative houses and the governor seat. However, within the ten years leading up to the next census in 2000, the republicans had slowly recaptured the governor seat, but the Democrats had control of both the legislative houses. Under the voting rights Act, the law required redistricting of the states to reflect the populations according to the latest authentic government census data. Traditionally speakers served for one or two-term limits up until 1975, then Gibb Lewis assumed the house leadership as a speaker in 1993. The tradition of one or two terms by this time had been abolished and events leading up to 2000 census and the aftermath field the redistricting politics in the state of Texas. The house speaker was a cotton farmer and campaigned on platforms of bringing higher standards of ethical leadership in the House. Then immediately after the 2000 census, the Tom Craddick from Republicans became the house speaker in 2003. For the first time after 130 years, the democrats had lost control of the legislature in Texas government, and Craddick’s appointment into the speaker seat fueled the redistricting battle, for he was seen as partisan on the issue. Democrats failed to agree in the House on the formula of redistricting due to conflicting political interests in the process.

After the republicans and the democrats failed to agree on redistricting formula in 2001, the legislative redistricting board was to take over the process by the law immediately after the census. However, problems persisted as the members of the LRB board were mainly from Republican Party by the virtue that the party had scooped most of the seats in the executive and the legislative bodies. Most of the members of the board were drawn across the three arms of government with the executive represented by the governor, attorney general, speaker and commissioners of constitutional bodies were accused of playing partisan interest in favor of the republicans and hence the democrats were unsatisfied by the execution of their mandates.

In 2001, republicans scooped control in both the executive and legislature, paving the way for the reintroduction of the redistricting of the Texas state. The democrats were the minority and new they won’t win in the House, leading to walkouts to scuttle the bid of the House to pass the redistricting formula for lack of quorum. However, their efforts would soon fail, and the only solution was to take the battle to court after the House passed the 2003 redistricting formula. The republicans had pushed for the heavily gerrymandered map a stand that the democrats had tried to veto in vain. The 2003 redistricting formula was perceived as orchestrated by the then house leadership by Tom Delay resulting in six seats of house representatives going into republicans from the new boundaries. The dispute would then find its way to the department of justice lawyers by voting rights act for the hearing and determination. The department of justice board would then declare the 2003 Texas redistricting as unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting rights acts which prohibited any form of discrimination in the redistricting. The board also discovered that the members of the House proceeded with the plan despite knowing the risks it posed to discrimination and meant to favor the recapturing of more legislative seats for the publicans. The dispute redistricting dispute would then get to the Supreme Court through the league of united Latin America citizens vs. Perry. The judges held most parts of the 2003 congressional redistricting plan but ordered the lower courts to re-plant the CD 23 after it found that it violated the Voting right Act. The court observed that redistricting after the census exercise and data on population was constitutional and permissible by the law. In a 7-2 majority rule, Texas had an issue with district 23, which was unconstitutional since it reduced the Hispanics on what the court termed as political manipulation.

Municipal Annexation in Texas

Chapter 43 of the local government code provides a comprehensive procedure and legal framework for municipal annexation in Texas State. Municipal annexation is the extension of new boundaries of the jurisdiction of the municipal authorities. The new boundaries extended mostly in the neighborhood become part of the municipality and required to conform to the tax codes and regulatory framework of the municipal authorities. Texas cities are one of the growing cities, and the annexation helps to expand the municipality authority and tap into the growth benefits of the towns in the neighborhood. The new expanding development centers and their annexation into municipalities benefit from the services provided under the local government. Municipal annexation laws in the Texas region are geared to help the cities to sustain economic stability and population growth. Texas City heavily relies on the revenue generated from the businesses and other economic activities for the provision of public services at the local government level.

Controversies have characterized involuntary annexations of the municipalities for lack of the population consent in matters of their governance. Some bills brought before the legislative bodies of the Texas state sometime elicited controversies on the procedures of annexation. Such bills include H.B 221, which required that the voter approval before annexation with more than 200 residents. Annexation will undoubtedly result in a vote. A court petition triggered it. In 2019 the state law closed all the unilateral annexations required that the process passes through the consent of voters before the annexation. Certain legal provisions governing the municipal annexation has provided more recommendations on how the process should take place. The recent bills in 2019 passed by the Texas senate apply to some accepts of approval for the annexation of the city neighborhoods. However, controversies continue to emerge over the municipal authority on unilateral annexation, with some members protesting against such authorities.

The Texas state has allowed the municipalities and cities to annex the neighboring centers of development. The city uses the authority to bring adjacent areas into their jurisdiction. The cities then tax the people and development installations in the area in return, providing the much-required public services. The process of annexation is vital since there is no funding from the state. Texas cities are drivers of revenue collection for the state hence limiting their authorities to annex would incapacitate their resource capabilities if not backed with financial assistance.

The municipal annexation act of 1963 provided the basis of annexation in Texas but has been amended several times, reflecting the controversies that surround the entire annexation process. The amendment is designed to reflect the needs and address the prevailing situations. Rule charters in chapter 43 of the Texas local government code provide for the unilateral annexation. Cities are allowed to unilaterally annex the sparsely populated neighborhoods through a petition on landowners. Other few specifications allow for the city to annex without deriving consent from the members, but such provisions are very limited.

The procedures of annexation are well codified in the Texas local government code. All the municipal annexations are required to follow the local government code provisions regardless of whether they fall under involuntary or voluntary annexations. There is a need for a municipal annexation plan detailing the possible annexation that may occur in writing. The annexation plan is a requirement before the municipal invites the annexation process. The plan will help in detailing the services and the benefits that the newly annexed areas will benefit. The planning also helps detail the responsibilities of the new annexed areas in terms of taxation and other legal and policy obligations. The municipalities are prohibited from circumventing the law on the procedures. If such evidence is brought to attention, any citizen from newly annexed areas may file a petition to the authorities for the determination of the matter. The arbitration process to the dispute will start, and the municipality will pay the entire cost to facilitate the process under Texas local government code forty-three.

 

There are also general requirements that provide that for the annexation of more than 99 tracts where each carries residential dwellings must involve a three-year map process. Areas with fewer than 100 tracts and whose more than two residential dwellings are located on each tract may be exempted from the requirement of going through the three-year annexation map plan process.  This means the area can be brought under the jurisdiction of the municipal within a shorter period. Other areas that are exempted from the MAP process include jurisdictions where more than half of the residential owners in the area have petitioned the authorities.  Areas bordered by military installations are also exempted from following the municipal annexation map process.  The local government code also requires that the annexation of adjacent land with timber management, wildlife, and agricultural land must ensure that the residents are served with the developmental agreement before the property annexation.  In the case of the municipal annexation plan process, there must be at least two public hearings on the matter before annexation ordinance. The public hearings must be advertised through local dailies at least 11 days before the hearing.

Cities must also notify any public entity within the areas of annexation within 89 days after the municipal annexation plan in case of utility service providers and 30 days for areas covered with less than a hundred developed land tracts. It is a requirement that a service plan is availed for the area proposed for annexation. Failure to provide a service plan would result in a legal suit and the subsequent declaration of annexation as null and void. Any form of taxes paid by the newly annexed areas after failure to follow the laid ground rules and regulations, according to local government, would be refunded. The service plan must guarantee the annexed area services such as police protection, public roads maintenances, and fire protection. Other services include in the service plan include street lighting water and sewage disposal services.

References

Geer, J. G., Schiller, W. J., & Segal, J. A. (2013). Gateways to democracy: An introduction to American government. Cengage Learning.Top of FormBottom of Form

 

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