Texas Constitutional Reform
The constitution is a document which reflects a set of fundamental rules for a definite nation and embodies the values related to people and their lives. The amendment problem involves realizing the differences between the U.S. and the state Constitutions. The significant detail is deepening into specifications of every state, thus, it has less general or constitutional character. Furthermore, the state constitutions are easier to change, which can be offered by citizens petition, legislature, etc. Therefore, this paper focuses on analyzing the reasons for amending the Texas Constitution, and the usefulness of its reform.
The functions of the constitution are somehow different in the U.S. Constitution and the Texas one, and they are beyond those that are stated in the U.S. document. The first function expresses the establishment of political institutions and explains the source of their power. The second reveals delegating powers to particular institutions and defining their activity. The third function is to preclude the concentration of power in one institution and provide a system of checks and balances. The fourth limits the government`s intrusion into the fundamental citizen freedoms. These functions are mostly similar to the U.S. Constitution but the principles reflected in both documents differ (Champagne and Harpham, W. W. Norton & Company).
These principles of governing are definite in every state. They have been changed many times since the Texas Constitution was adopted and now count seven. The first is Popular Sovereignty, i.e. resting the ultimate power and final authority with people, and governments should act for their benefit. The second is Republicanism, which reflects that people cannot govern themselves, but they have a right to choose the person who would do it in elections. The third principle, Federalism, is embodied in Texas as it is a part of the USA federal system: the power is divided between the national and states governments. The separation of branches of the state government into Legislative, Executive and Juridical shows the Separation of Powers principle. The Check and Balances principle means every branch controls the other two. The Limited Government principle reveals that many documents, such as the Texas Constitution itself, the U.S. Constitution, etc., limit the power of the states government. And the seventh principle,Individual Rights will guarantee personal freedoms and equality (Seven Principles of the Constitution Animations, Law-Related Education).
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However, the reality does not coincide with the written ideas, and some principles are reflected the least in the policy of state. The first relates to the republican form of government Due to the U.S. federal arrangement, some administrative duties of Texas are limited. And the second is inviolability of human rights and freedoms. For example, the section 32 (a) of the Texas Bill of Rights prohibits gay marriages, (11) which were legalized on the whole territory of the USA in 2015.
Texas Governor, Republican Greg Abbott, relying on the constitutional principles, criticized the federal legislation about gay marriage. At the end of 2015, on the basis of the Individual Rights principle, he rejected weapon sale limitation, offered by Obama. These actions were based on his belief that Constitution principles have to be adhered not only by the state citizens but also the federal authority.
The Texas Constitution has been amended so many times due to its awkwardness, excessive specification and the large volume. There have been attempts of implementing a new constitution project or its fair revision. The size and complexity of the Texas Constitution is the reflection of political culture and values of people who created it in 1876 and tried to reduce the possibilities for authority to despise the citizens. Time has elapsed but the main goal remains the same: preserving minimal or divided authority powers. The amendments have not made any drastic changes and solved relatively few problems.
In spite of all the efforts to improve it, the Texas Constitution still is not perfect. Nowadays it has three main problems. The first is that the state Constitution has a much bigger volume than the U.S. one as well as the steadily growing number of amendments. The second one is that it includes unnecessary specifications of Articles and Sections. There are many questions, such as municipal pension plans, tax rates, etc., which could be solved, for instance, on the state legislature level. And the third and most essential is the weakness of the executive branch of the government. The governor does not have any control over other government bodies; he shares the power with them.
The possible solution to these three problems was discussed, with the main focus on strengthening and regulation of local authority, system changes in the legislative branch and alignment of the Constitution with modern demands. In 1974, there was legislature meeting for revision of the fundamental law. However, there was a lack of 3 votes for adopting the new Constitution it, so it remained the same.
Constitutional changes were advocated by many people as this document has some drawbacks. One of them is that it stipulates fragmented power: the Texas Governors authority is weak because of sharing the executive powers. For example, Attorney General has many legal authorities, peculiar for governors in other states. Thus, the governor has to cooperate with other people who not necessarily have a similar vision. Besides, there is a double legal system with intersecting competences. It is useful to remember peculiarities of the legislative branch activity. While attempting to amend the Constitution, the state legislators always had to take into consideration the interests of various influential business groups who tended to keep the Status Quo. But Texas citizens traditionally are conductors of the individualistic culture and have showed a steady distrust of public agency since the time of War Between the States. Therefore, the fearless that would amend the Texas Constitution should pay attention to these facts.
But it is useful to remember that amendments will be introduced according to demands of time. The most successful contemporary reform was implemented in 2013, approving nine out of ten constitutional amendments (Alvarez 468). On the whole, they were related to financing various water projects by the Rainy Day Fund. Also, there was an improvement in the taxation system, in particular, tax relief for families who lost their member during military service and for aircraft manufacturers. Also, medicine and juridical fields were improved and other internal state problems were solved as well (Ross and Satija, The Texas Tribune).
To conclude, the current Texas Constitution is more complex than its previous variants. It can be amended gradually but not in a quick way due to its specifications and volume. Also, as experience shows, the attempts to radically change the Texas Constitution in the nearest future seem to be doomed to fail. Furthermore, there is no need to have the Constitutional Convention because the amendments can be adopted without it, and inner state problems can be solved by a governmental decree or a subordinate act. Texas is developing rapidly as well as its economy. Therefore, neither state government, nor business groups would like to make revolutionary changes. The only thing Taxes wants is to be more independent from federal authorities.