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  1. Unit 3.1: Legislature Vocabulary and Definitions
  2. Bicameralism - the State legislature is made up of two chambers; the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 150 members and the Senate has 31.
  3. Reapportionment - the redrawing of district and precinct lines to represent changes in population after the Constitutionally mandated census conducted every 10 years.
  4. Citizen legislator - the type of legislator that works in the legislature only for 4 or 5 months every two years; the remainder of their elected term is spent in private pursuits. This is the type of legislature that is in Texas, making it an 'amateur' legislature.
  5. Legislative membership requirements - Senate: U. S. Citizen, registered voter, 26 years old; House of Representatives: U. S. Citizen, registered voter, 21 years old.
  6. Money in Campaigns - Office space, campaign literature, travel, postage, TV and other advertising, campaign staff and strategists all need to be paid for in a campaign; money often comes to candidates through special interest donations.
  7. Constituents - those residents of the State who are directly affected by a particular elected official. Usually residents and businesses in the home district of the elected official.
  8. Lieutenant Governor - While this position is also in line to become the next Governor, he/she is also the President of the Senate. As such, he/she has more relative power than the Vice-President of the United States. The Lt. Governor has the power not only to break tie votes, but appoints committee chairs, assigns bills for consideration, determines rules and serves as ex officio member of many other Boards.
  9. Speaker of the House - First an elected Representative, is chosen by the entire House of Representatives to be the leader of the House. As Speaker and a Representative, this position has the power to vote on every Bill that passes through the House, assigns bills to committee, assigns Chairs to committees and sub-committees, determines House rules and serves as ex officio member of many other Boards.
  10. Ex officio - Usually a person who is elected to a position, such as the Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the House, are also by default, members of other boards, like the Legislative Budget Board and the Legislative Education Board.
  11. Legislative Budget Board (LBB) - a Board made up of elected officials, except the Governor, that submits a budget for the State to the Legislature. The state budget created by the LBB is usually the budget that is passed by both the House and Senate.
  12. Committee structure - The way that the legislature conducts business is through a system of committees. A committee is made up of representatives or Senators, or both (called joint committees), and usually decide whether a bill should be voted on by the entire House or Senate. Committees are often referred to as 'little legislatures' as they do most of the work in the legislature.
  13. Bill - a proposed law. A proposed law must be passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate before it can be presented to the governor for a signature. If a Bill is signed by the governor, it becomes a law.
  14. Standing committees - In the legislature, there are committees that are always working. These committees have specific types of proposed laws and are consistent in every legislative session.
  15. Ad hoc committees - Committees that are set up for a specific purpose for a specific time; temporary and when it's business is complete, it is disbanded. Ad hoc committees can be set up in the House, Senate, or be a combination of both. Oftentimes, these committees will be called 'Select' committees as they are set up on an emergency basis for a special purpose. They are also disbanded after their function is complete.
  16. Conference committees - while conference committees can be considered to be ad hoc and joint, they must be defined more clearly as committees that consider legislation that will pass both houses; conference committee membership is always made up of both Senators and Representatives.
  17. Interim committees - a great deal of legislative work is done between sessions in Texas, especially because of the 18 month time off between sessions. Interim committees will listen to testimony from constituents and others, decide on wording of proposed bills, decide on the legislative agenda and other legislative business when the legislature is not in session. Many times, they have the designation 'special' interim committees because they will consider controversial or contemporary topics.
  18. Retainership system - the ability of legislators to be hired by outside interests or organizations with the intent of receiving special consideration in the legislature.
  19. Joint committees - Committees that are made up of both Senators and Representative; usually work to create legislation that can be submitted to both sides of the legislature at the same time (companion bills).
  20. Procedural committees - committees that will determine the rules for a particular session or the process of a particular bill.
  21. Companion bills - The identical bills submitted to both Houses of the legislature; usually created in the interim for faster passage through the legislature.
  22. Tagging - used only in the Senate and is the act of stalling the action on a bill for 48 hours. It can kill a bill if used at the proper time in the session.
  23. Pigeonholing - the use of committees to place unpopular bills with a committee that will not consider it. This will effectively kill any unpopular bill before it reaches a vote in the legislature.
  24. Floor - the actual Senate or House, when gathered together to vote or openly debate a bill that is up for a vote.
  25. Reading - the 'reading' of a bill consists of a Senator and Representative reading the actual bill on the Floor for it to be recorded into the official record of the legislature. A bill is read up to three times before it may become a law.
  26. Vote - Every bill is required to be voted on by both the House and the Senate before it is passed. A bill will be voted on before it is sent to conference committee. It will be voted on again if it passes the conference committee; a bill can be voted on up to 2 times before it reaches the governor to be signed.
  27. Filibuster - Only allowed in the Senate, a filibuster is when a Senator continues to talk at the microphone, given permission by the Lt. Gov., as a tactic to kill a bill.
  28. Resolution - an action taken by either the House or the Senate, but not sent to the other house or to the Governor. It usually includes a statement on a current issue.
  29. Joint resolution - Both the House and the Senate create an action, but do not send it to the Governor for signature. Proposed amendments to the Constitution require joint resolutions to be placed on a state-wide ballot for voter approval.
  30. Concurrent resolution - Resolutions created by a simple majority of legislators which appeal to the U.S. Congress for action on a bill.
  31. Senatorial Courtesy - Because confirmation of most appointments happens in the Senate, Senators from an appointee's home district are consulted before a confirmation takes place. If the Senator has an objection to an appointment, the nominee will not be considered for confirmation. Usually, the Governor will consult with the Senator from a proposed nominee's district before a nomination is announced to assure confirmation.
  32. Impeachment - the ability of the House and Senate to remove a Governor or other elected official from office. The House impeaches and the Senate votes to remove. Both must have 2/3 vote.
  33. Legislative powers - Sunsetting (closing) of bureaucratic agencies; investigative powers (investigations of wrong-doing of government officials); impeachment power; budgetary creation; creation of laws; representation of constituents.
  36. The Texas Legislature
  37. Introduction
  38. The Texas Legislature is a bicameral legislature composed of a 150 member House of Representatives, and a 31 member Senate. The members of the House and Senate are elected for 2 and 4 years terms of office, respectively, from single member districts. These districts have roughly equal population because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Reynolds v. Sims (1964), applying the "one person, one vote" principle to all state legislatures. The act of drawing district lines is called 'apportionment.' The redrawing of districts every ten years is based on census data and is called "Reapportionment". This process is conducted for both state and national elected offices by each state's legislature.
  39. Characteristics of Legislators
  40. The profile of the typical Texas Legislator is in transition as the Republican party has now become the majority in the legislature. For over a century in Texas, the typical legislator was Democrat; as late as 1961, there was only one Republican in the entire legislature. The other major characteristics of a legislator seem to remain very stable. A legislator is more likely to be an anglo male; minority and female representation fluctuates from session to session. A legislator is more likely to be male, wealthy, and an attorney or self-employed businessman. While women and minorities can and do get elected, it seems unlikely that wealth or occupation backgrounds like attorneys will decrease.
  41. Organization of the Legislature
  42. The key figures in the Texas Legislature are the two presiding officers, Lieutenant Governor in the Senate, and Speaker of the House for the House of Representatives. (Required Reading: The Powers and Duties of the Speaker and The Powers and Duties of the Lt. Governor.) These two officials have tremendous powers when it comes to organizing the legislature and shaping the legislative process.
  43. The rest of the organizational structure in the legislature is committee chairpersons. Each committee functions as a "little legislature," using its membership to decide which bills will reach the floor for a vote or what the bill will include when it is presented to the legislature. The membership of the committees consist of the elected Senators and Representatives and all have specific functions and issues. There are five types of legislative committees, lead by chairpersons. The most important of these are standing (substantive) committees, and their subcommittees, which consider most bills and oversee administrative agencies. The conference committee is an important committee in one part of the legislative process. Ad hoc and Interim committees consider special issues and problems.
  44. Citizen Legislators
  45. The Texas constitution creates many limitations on the legislature, which contributes to the high turnover rate, and relative inexperience among legislators. The Texas legislature by law can only meet for 140 days in odd numbered years. In other words, they only meet every other year. For this part-time work, legislators are paid a salary of $7,200 a year. These constitutional provisions reflect the conservative political culture in Texas, which believes that government often does more harm than good, and should be tightly restricted. As has been said of potential legislators, or those who run for office, they are "full-time, part of the time." From a demographic standpoint, the Texas legislature lives up to that saying by being mostly self-employed businessmen and lawyers, individuals who are able to leave their full-time lives for the 140 days and serve in the legislature without the inconvienence of losing jobs or disrupting financial income. Every two years, at least 25% of the legislature is newly elected, which contributes to inconsistency in legislation and representation.
  46. Legislative Process
  47. The legislative process in Texas is greatly influenced by the powers of the lieutenant governor in the Texas Senate, and the speaker in the Texas House of Representatives. These presiding officers have the power to appoint most committee members, to appoint committee chairs, to assign bills to committees, to schedule legislation, to recognize members to speak, and to appoint the chairs and members of conference committees. In addition, these two presiding figures serve on and appoint members of the following boards and commissions: Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Council, Legislative Audit Committee, Legislative Redistricting Board and the Sunset Advisory Commission.
  48. Aside from representing their constituents, Legislators must create a budget every session that will be good for two years. They must pass other laws, initiate the many changes to the State's very old Constitution, watch over the bureaucratic agencies, even closing them down (sunsetting) if they are no longer viable for the State. They are also responsible for disciplining themselves if a member needs to be censored or removed from office.
  49. Legislative Governance
  50. The legislature is self-governed. When a Senator or Representative is suspected of wrong-doing while in office, the Senate or House of Representatives can address the issue, by what is called 'legislative redress.' They can remove a colleague from office by a majority vote in the respective chamber, if they feel that the 'wrong-doing' was severe enough to damage the effectiveness of the chamber or of the elected person. While the Governor is the only person who can call a Special Session for legislative purposes, the House and Senate can call an 'Impeachment Session' for the sole purpose of deciding the impeachment and removal of a Governor or Judge from their position. Texas has impeached and removed one Governor from office, Jim Ferguson, whose wife was elected Governor soon after that -- her campaign slogan was "Two for the Price of One." She acted more as a First Lady while her husband brokered the deals of government behind the scenes.
  53. The Texas Lt. Governor
  54. Introduction: The Lieutenant Governor is perhaps the most important elected office in the State of Texas. The office has never had a woman elected to the position. Most Texans are not familiar with the office, and many do not understand how powerful the office is. The Lt. Governor is elected in a state- wide election for four years and is the second in line to become Governor, as explained below. However, the Texas Constitution also gives the Lt. Governor legislative powers. Because of the executive and legislative powers of this position, a comparative look at the Vice-President of the United States versus the Texas Lt. Governor reveals a surprising difference: the Lt. Governor of Texas is far more powerful in the State than the Vice-President is at the national level.
  56. Of course, being Vice-President of the United States is far more encompassing than a Lt. Governor of any state, but, when the powers of each are compared, the Texas Lt. Governor is even stronger than the Governor of the State. The only limiting power of the Lt. Governor is the inability to vote on every piece of legislation. However, the State Senate has almost eliminated this particular limitation by voting to create a 'Committee of the Whole' for special circumstances, when all 31 members of the State Senate plus the Lt. Governor can vote on bills. Roles:
  58. The Lieutenant Governor in Texas is unique in that he is part of both the Executive and Legislative branches.
  59. The Lieutenant Governor in Texas assumes the powers and duties of the Governor when the Governor is unable to serve or is absent from the state.
  60. The Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor (plural executive), and each can be members of different political parties.
  61. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of two Executive branch boards created by statute (law), the Cash Management Committee and the Bond Review Board.
  62. The Lieutenant Governor is also the President of the Texas Senate.
  63. Statutory Duties:
  65. The Lieutenant Governor derives other powers and responsibilities from state statute. By statute, the Lieutenant Governor is a member of several Legislative branch boards and committees:
  67. the Legislative Budget Board (chair)
  68. the Legislative Council (chair)
  69. the Legislative Audit Committee
  70. the Legislative Education Board
  71. the Legislative Redistricting Board
  72. The Legislative Budget Board, for example, provides the Legislature with a recommended budget at the beginning of every session. In many other states, this is done only in the executive branch. The authority of the Legislative Budget Board is broad, and its influence on spending is significant. By his Chairship and his power to make appointments to the Board, the Lieutenant Governor exerts a powerful influence on public policy.
  74. Senate Rules:
  76. The State Constitution also gives the Senate the authority to write its own rules. That's where the Lieutenant Governor derives most of his power, as it is usually by his direction that the Senate rules are enforced. Another important source of power is the Lieutenant Governor's leadership role in the Senate. His leadership abilities and the faith and confidence he inspires in the Senators will determine how he is treated when the Senate writes its rules. These rules, adopted by a majority of Senators at the beginning of each Legislative Session, set down in great detail how business is conducted in the Senate. The rules generally allow the Lieutenant Governor to:
  78. decide all parliamentary questions
  79. to use his discretion in following Senate procedural rules
  80. set up standing and special committees
  81. appoint committee chairpersons and individual members
  82. decide the order in which bills are considered
  83. Constitutional Duties:
  85. the right to debate and vote on all issues when the Senate sits as a Committee of the Whole
  86. the right to cast the deciding vote in the case of a Senate tie
  87. sign all bills and resolutions
  90. Speaker of the House
  91. Role:
  93. The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives. The Texas Constitution requires the House of Representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as Speaker. To become Speaker, any Representative can ask the other representatives to vote for him/her for the position. The other Representatives then vote, in a closed session, for the position. This 'election' takes place at the beginning of a new legislative session, after a November general election.
  95. The power of the Speaker is not only derived from the duties and rules adopted by the House, the Speaker is a duly elected Representative, and as such, is a full member of the House with the ability to vote on every piece of legislation and then, when it is passed, signs each new bill.
  97. Legislative Boards:
  99. Legislative Budget Board (Vice-Chair)
  100. Legislative Council (Vice-Chair)
  101. Legislative Redistricting Board (Vice-Chair)
  102. Legislative Audit Committee
  103. Sunset Advisory Commission
  104. Duties:
  106. maintains order during floor debate
  107. recognizes legislators who wish to speak
  108. rules on procedural matters
  109. sign all bills and joint resolutions passed by the legislature
  110. votes on all questions (bills) before the house
  111. House Rules:
  113. The other duties and responsibilities of the Speaker are determined by the members of the house in the House Rules of Procedure, which are adopted by a majority vote of the members at the beginning of each regular session of the legislature. The members give the Speaker:
  115. the authority to appoint the membership of each standing committee subject to rules on seniority
  116. to ability to designate the chair and vice-chair for each committee
  117. the power to refer all proposed legislation to committee, subject to the committee jurisdictions set forth in the rules
  118. allows the speaker to appoint conference committees
  119. the power to create select committees
  120. the power to direct committees to conduct interim studies when the legislature is not in session
  123. Districting Vocabulary and Rules
  124. Districts are drawn every ten years, after the national census is completed. Populations move, decline and grow, so district lines must be redrawn to accommodate those changes.
  126. Districting is probably the most powerful but unseen tool any elected group has. The act of using a map to decide who gets to vote in any race can influence elections for decades. Those individuals who are currently elected, such as state legislatures, are tasked with the duty of drawing those lines. Because those elected officials want to be reelected and they want others whose political ideals are like theirs to be elected, the lines will be drawn to reflect who will vote for them.
  128. A question most often asked by students is "How do they know who will vote for them?" The answer is found by looking at who votes in a primary election. Everyone who votes in a primary must declare which party they are voting for. When that information is collected, it becomes a simple task of adding up how many Republicans and Democrats voted in the district in question. If more of one party, say Democrats, voted in a district during the primary, it can be assumed, statistically, that the same party will have more voters in the general election. Therefore, that district becomes 'blue' or Democrat.
  130. These voting statistics are used to determine where the lines should go. If, as in the above example, Democrats are the majority in a legislature, then they will draw the lines to reflect more Democrats in each district. If the majority is Republican, then they would want the Democrat vote to be somewhat weakened, therefore not allowing Democrat candidates to win in a district. This process of manipulating the districts for political gain is known as gerrymandering.
  132. Vocabulary
  134. Districts - political boundaries; drawn on a map by political entities such as state legislatures.
  135. Apportionment - the act of dividing a population into districts; each of which has a numerical ideal. Districts are to be as equal as possible in population.
  136. Reapportionment - the same as Redistricting; dividing a population based on census data into mathematically proportionate districts.
  137. Gerrymandering - drawing district lines in such a way as to diffuse or concentrate populations into non-threatening voting positions. (see below)
  138. Political Boundaries - ways of dividing populations into geographical divisions; lines drawn on a map to represent the geographical divisions of the population.
  139. Precinct - the smallest part of a district; neighborhood divisions.
  140. Size of Districts - can be as small as a couple of thousand people to as large as several states.
  141. Geographical boundaries - using geographical objects - mountains, rivers, highways, major streets - to create a political boundary.
  142. Redistricting - the act of redrawing political boundaries on maps to redistribute the population into mathematically equal districts; always done after the 10 year census.
  143. Population shift - populations move around the country, thereby creating a shift in populations in states and districts.
  144. Mathematical ideals in districting - the act of creating districts with equally sized populations.
  145. Ways of electing:
  146. Slate elections - handpicked groups which will represent an entire geographical area if elected. For example, if a mayoral candidate chooses the individuals that will run with him/her and then all are elected together. There is no district representation in slate elections. This type of election is seen as unconstitutional because of it's lack of representational qualities - it can be elitist in nature.
  147. Multi-member district elections - this type of district allows for several individuals to be elected in the same district to represent a population in the same job. Another name for multi-member elections is "at-large elections". For example, school boards across Texas allow candidates from the same district to be elected to the same board. Everyone in a town, city or district votes for the same candidates. Oftentimes, this causes confusion as the elected officials may contradict each other when decisions for the district need to be made. Representation of minority populations may also be negatively affected if their candidates are not successfully elected.
  148. Single-member district elections - each district elects one person for a particular position. This type of election is most indicative of equal representation, where all districts choose their elected official by the 'one-man, one-vote' principal. While gerrymandering can be a factor in political terms, the most effective way minorities have representation is through single-member district elections.
  149. Ways of Gerrymandering
  150. Concentration/Packing - placing all of one type of population: race, socioeconomic, political; into one district; either to concentrate power or weaken power on elected boards. All gerrymandering, except for political affiliation, is unconstitutional, therefore, illegal. This technique is most widely used as a way of allowing the target population some representation, but to limit representation overall.
  151. Diffusion/Cracking - spread a potentially "dangerous" population over several geographical districts; to dilute the power of populations: race, socioeconomic, political; by not allowing them power in any district. This technique is a more obvious way of gerrymandering and tends to be challenged in court. It's goal is to weaken the voting strength of a population.
  152. Pairing - a technique often done during redistricting which redraws district lines to pair two elected officials against each other so that one is sure to lose. This technique guarantees that one official does not have enough votes to win in the redrawn district and assures that the candidate of the majority party wins.
  153. Rules of Districting
  154. "Districts will always have roughly the same number of population." This is now standard for districting. Small variations are allowed, but districts must have good reasons for deviating from a mathematical ideal. Small, large or intermediate geographically sized districts will always have roughly the same population.
  155. "The smaller the district, the larger, more rural the district, the poorer the district." In geographically small districts, populations are living in smaller spaces, usually apartment type dwellings. Most often, employment opportunities are scarce, because geographically small areas do not allow for business growth. Larger, rural districts are not concentrated wealth, therefore also tend to be poorer.
  156. "The use of geographical divisions are used as often as possible in districting." This rule is used when convenient. In the House districts in El Paso County, we can see that the mountain, an obvious divider of neighborhoods, was ignored in drawing lines for the northeast and west part of town. Gerrymandering will often overlook geographical boundaries in favor of population manipulation.
  157. "Suburban districts tend to be middle class and somewhat affluent." - This is self- explanatory, as these districts tend to have the greatest business opportunities and neighborhood blocks tend to be evenly spaced with single family dwellings.
  162. Gerrymandering: A Little Help for Our Friends
  164. Introduction: Before reading this Essay, study the Districting Definitions found in Unit 3.2. They will help to understand many of the concepts introduced in this Essay.
  165. #1:        Apportionment is the process involving the drawing of district plans, whether for the House of Representatives, the Senate or any State elected body. It is required by the Constitution of the United States to hold a census every ten years to get an accurate count of how many people reside in each state and in each region of the states. Every person is guaranteed the right of representation in government, so it is necessary to find out where they are so that individuals elected to government know who is voting for them and who they are representing when they are elected. Each area that is represented by an elected official is called a 'district'. This essay looks at what districting and reapportionment (the redrawing of the plans every ten years) are and how gerrymandering, both legal and illegal, affects voting outcomes.
  167. #2:        Districting places residents within areas that are drawn on a map to show who they vote for in elections. Gerrymandering, or the process of manipulating the lines on the map to the advantage or disadvantage of certain voting groups or specific candidates, has been used since at least the 1800's. It is named for Elbridge Gerry, who at the time was governor of Massachussetts. He and his political party, the Democratic-Republicans, divided Boston up with district lines that created a majority vote for his party. One of the districts, it was said, looked like a salamander (lizard), thereby creating the combination of the Governor's last name and salamander, 'gerrymander', to describe any voting district plan that favors one party or ethnicity over another.
  169. #3:        Gerrymandering employs at least one of three techniques: diffusion (also called cracking), concentration (also called packing), and/or pairing. Depending on how each of these is used in the reapportionment planning, they may be deemed legal or illegal. If, for example, it is the goal of a Democratic Party majority in a state legislature to draw a plan that will limit the voting strength of Republicans, the diffusion (cracking) approach is used to draw district lines so that there are some Republicans scattered across several districts but not enough to provide a Republican majority in any single district. This is a legal process called 'partisan (party) districting'.
  171. #4:        On the other hand, if there are too many Republicans in a relatively large area, diffusion might give them a chance to win elections in several districts. Under these circumstances, the Democrats could employ the tactic of concentration (packing). Gerrymandering through concentration simply concedes (allows) a district to go to the Republicans which isolates them and keeps their voting strength within a single, heavily Republican district, giving the sense that there is some power given to the their party. This is also legal partisan districting.
  173. #5:        The third gerrymandering technique is pairing; that is, putting the residences of two or more incumbent (already elected) representatives into the same district so that only one of them can be reelected. This is a legal process that is used by already elected officials who want to make it difficult for an opposing party member to get re-elected. The lines will be drawn in such a way as to create a minority of the opposing party voters so that he/she will lose the election to the majority incumbent. This legal type of gerrymandering guarantees at least one more solid seat for the current majority members of the elected representation.
  175. #6:        The most remarkable example of the pairing approach is the redistricting plan that emerged from the 62nd Texas Legislature in 1971. In the wake of the Sharpstown stock fraud scandal, Speaker Gus Mutscher and the House leadership were challenged in the election by a reform coalition of Republicans and liberal Democrats known as the "Dirty Thirty." In response, Mutscher and his allies sought to "purge" their opponents in a redistricting plan that paired several of them with each other or with other incumbents. In the Central Texas area, for example, the residences of three enemies of the speaker were "mutschermandared" into the same district. At the time, Mutscher's Reapportionment Committee chairman insisted that such matchings had been unavoidable and accidental. Later, however, he was quoted as saying that he had done his "dead-level best to eliminate liberal House members," that the Dirty Thirty were a bunch of "nobodies" who just "wanted something to bellyache about," and that he hoped he had "made it impossible for some of those people to get reelected."
  177. Redistricting through the Courts
  179. #7:        Just as inevitable as gerrymandering is in drawing district lines, are the court disputes, called 'litigation', that take place after the Legislature has enacted a redistricting plan. Historically, most litigation involved how many people were in each district. In 1960s United States, the apportionment ratio of U.S. House of Representative members to the total population was roughly 1 for every 64,000 persons; however, some districts drawn in 1961 had as few as 38,000 inhabitants per representative while others had as many as 100,000 per representative. Such enormous differences, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Reynolds v. Sims (1964), are unconstitutional infringements on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution. Thus, in the following year, the "one man, one vote" principle was applied in Texas in Kilgarlin v. Martin (1965).
  181. #8:        Today, the basic principle of population-based representation is no longer in dispute. Any redistricting plan, however, may still invite litigation on the grounds that it does not result in districts that are sufficiently close in population to the exact mathematical ideal. In Texas, that means that one one-hundred-and-fiftieth (1/150) part of the state's population for each Representative in the Texas House of Representatives, which has 150 members; and, one thirty-one (1/31) part of the state's population for each Texas State Senator. There are 31 Texas State Senators.
  183. #9:        Meeting the ideal population for districts is no easy task. States filed litigation challenging the mathematical ideal and, finally, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Mahon v. Howell, (1974), that state legislative districts are not required to be precisely equal in population: modest (small) variations are permissible. In this Virginia case, approval was given to a plan featuring districts that were within 10 percent of the ideal population. Furthermore, the Supreme Court indicated that small variations are particularly acceptable if they help new districts conform as much as possible to boundaries of other jurisdictions, such as counties and cities. States are still finding difficulty in this type of division while creating district plans.
  185. Racial Gerrymandering
  187. #10:        The third and most likely basis for districting litigation involves the charge of racial gerrymandering. The most common tactic for diluting racial voting power was multi-member districting. This technique allowed two or more representatives for one district. The voters in the district are allowed to vote for all of the representatives, making it impossible for the minority population within the district to have representation in the elected body. Multi-member districts still exist in many types of elected boards throughout the country. However, in 1971, a three-judge federal district court ruled that multi-member districts diluted the votes of Blacks in Dallas and of Mexican Americans in San Antonio, thus violating the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Graves v. Barnes I [1972]). For relief, the court ordered immediate implementation of single-member districts in Dallas and Bexar Counties. (The Texas Legislative Redistricting Board had already established single-member districts in Harris (Houston) County.)
  189. #11        As a result of the enactment of single-member districts in Dallas, Bexar and Harris counties, their Black representation in the Texas Legislature increased from two to eight and their Mexican-American representatives increased from two to five following the elections of 1972. Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court's order concerning single-member districts in Dallas and San Antonio (White v. Regester [1973]); and it opened the judicial door for further litigation attacking multi-member districts in counties including the cities of Fort Worth, El Paso, Lubbock, Austin, Corpus Christi, Waco, Beaumont, and Port Arthur. Subsequently, a federal district court order established single-member legislative districts in these counties (Graves v. Barnes II [1974]).
  191. #12:        Late in the spring of 1975, before the U.S. Supreme Court could review the second Graves case, the Texas Legislature redistricted the whole state into 150 single-member (House) districts, thus eliminating all legislative multi-member districts. Blacks and Mexican-Americans in some urban counties were still unsatisfied, however; and in 1976 court orders were obtained for revising district lines in Nueces County (Corpus Christi), Jefferson County (Beaumont-Port Arthur), and Tarrant County (Fort Worth). This was not the end of litigation against alleged racial gerrymandering in Fort Worth, and further revision of district lines in Tarrant County was ordered as a result of U.S. District Court and Supreme Court actions in 1977 and 1978. Racial gerrymandering is never legal -- if it is proven in federal court to be used by states as a means to limit minority representation in elections, districts are usually redrawn by the courts or court appointed committees.
  193. Partisan Gerrymandering
  195. #14:        Partisan gerrymandering, as discussed above, has lately met with the same fate as racial gerrymandering. Litigation against states for disguising 'party affiliation' districts as racial gerrymandering has come under court scrutiny. The litigants charge that states are creating partisan districts that hold a surprising number of minorities - as large portions of minorities around the country vote in the Democratic Party. As long as states can prove that these large sections of the population vote for one political party, it is legal for district populations to be gerrymandered to favor the party in power. Lawsuits are pending against Texas and other States in the U.S. Supreme Court for purposefully gerrymandering districts that contain high numbers of minorities by disguising racially motivated gerrymandering as 'partisan districting'.
  197. #15:        In 2018, the Supreme Court decided that they were going to put off ruling on partisan gerrymandering cases until at least after the 2020 elections. The census is going to be taken again in 2020, which will be subject to the same partisan gerrymandering that has dominated state reapportionment in recent years. It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the litigants under the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause and place restrictions on what is perceived to be racial gerrymandering in the name of political affiliation. Texas, especially, has been at the forefront of challenging U.S. federal court and the Supreme Court decisions limiting the use of gerrymandering techniques. With the changing demographic makeup of the State, it seems likely that these and more challenges by the State of Texas are not over.
  199. Conclusion
  201. #16:        So how does this affect El Paso? Being a largely Democratic county, El Paso has always been seen as too liberal for the more conservative leadership of the State. El Paso has two U. S. House of Representative Districts - the one that covers most of El Paso County has always been held by a Democrat. However, far east El Paso County was initially gerrymandered into Midland, Texas, where the Representative has always been Republican. In the reapportionment in 2010, the state redrew the district into San Antonio, Texas, giving El Paso a Democrat in both of it's Congressional Districts for the first time in many years. However, the Texas Legislature continues to concentrate El Paso voters into partisan districts which tend to limit the city's ability to have state-wide influence in most elections.
  203. #17:        We have heard, and maybe even said, "my vote does not count, so why should I vote?" The answer may well be that if voting is not important, then why do those in power spend so much time thinking up ways to keep their opponents out of power? Districting is a concept that many people have little information about or do not understand the consequences of when those who are in power create and use gerrymandered districts. When districts are drawn, they are in effect for a full ten-year cycle, which means that at least five U. S. Congressional elections are based on the districting plans drawn in a census year. Thus, the party that was in power at the time of the districting process can guarantee itself that they stay in power for those five elections cycles. Voting, in spite of gerrymandering, remains the most powerful action by those who want a change of power in local, state and national government.
  206. Gerrymandering and Districting Graph Directions
  207. These graphs have been proven to aid in the understanding of districting and gerrymandering techniques. Gerrymandering is a way of controlling populations so that they do not have political power in their community. Populations that have been gerrymandered in the past include minorities and the poor. Even in communities like El Paso, where the minority (Mexican-American) population is the majority in numbers, whites have dominated the political climate. Districting, because it is done by those who hold elected office, has been and continues to be a silent and underrated controlling factor in dominating minorities and the poor.
  209. Completing these graphs will give you an opportunity to see just how powerful it is to manipulate entire communities. By drawing lines in different ways, different election outcomes take place. As you have read in the essays and in the book, districting can cause entire legislatures to fracture and revolt. Below, you will get some general directions for completing the graphs. The fate of these communities and their elections are now in your hands.
  211. The definition of Gerrymandering
  213. Gerrymandering - 1812, Amer.; after Elbridge Gerry (Governor of Massachusetts, whose party redistricted the state in 1812) + (sala)mander, (a form of lizard) from the fancied resemblance of the map of Essex County, Mass. to this animal, after the redistricting. E. Gerry was also vice-president of the US in 1813-14 under Madison. Gerrymandering is the overt attempt to weaken political or ethnic minority representation by drawing district lines to manipulate populations. Gerrymandering is also used to protect the "right kind" of incumbents, or those who support the legislative leadership and/or the agenda of powerful special interests.
  215. Three gerrymandering techniques
  217. Diffusion/cracking - to break up a political or ethnic minority among several districts so that its votes within any one district are negligible.
  218. Concentration/packing - placing minority populations within one district so as to limit influence to only one district instead of several.
  219. Pairing - redistricts two or more incumbent legislators within one district, thereby assuring one will be defeated. Used as "punishment" of a legislator who has fallen "out of favor" of party or legislative leadership.
  220. Directions for Completing the Districting Graphs
  222. In this exercise, we are creating either a city council, a state legislature, or a U.S. Legislative group. The way the lines are drawn will determine which population gets to control any one or all of these groups.
  224. Print out all three graphs.
  225. Each has a specific goal; you will either Diffuse (crack) or Concentrate (pack) according to the directions on the sheet.
  226. All Districts must be equal in population. There are 66 total characters, which means 11 will be in each district.
  227. All District lines must connect.
  228. DO NOT PLAY CONNECT THE DOTS. It works much better if the lines go around the figures instead of through them.
  229. Each district must be numbered: (D1, D2, etc.) Lable the districts to correspond to the districts on the right of your sheet.
  230. If you mess up and want to try again, just print out another sheet.
  231. DO NOT ATTACH THE GRAPHS TO YOUR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT! Just complete them then follow the instructions for the written assignment.
  232. Enjoy your newfound Districting Power!
  235. The Executive Branch
  236. Texas has what is called a "plural executive." A "plurality" is when more than one individual has power in the political environment. In Texas, the executive branch has a plurality in that each of the major positions in the branch are elected to their positions. The Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner and Commissioner of Agriculture, are elected in state-wide elections and each have their own electoral base. As a result, each of these positions can be of different political parties and are not required to like each other or even work together.
  238. Two very influential boards, the State Board of Education and The Texas Railroad Commision, are also elected to their positions. Below is a synopsis of each and their jobs in the executive branch.
  240. The Governor
  242. The Texas Governor is very weak as the state's executive authority. In relation to the President of the United States, the Texas Governor is extremely weak. The 1876 Constitution (the same one we are using today) strictly limits the Governor's powers and role:
  244. Most powerful weapon is the line-item veto for budgetary purposes.
  245. To override veto, House and Senate must have 2/3 vote. However, the override veto is a very rare occurence.
  246. Can use a post-adjournment veto, the legislature cannot over-ride a post-adjournment veto because they are not in session when the veto takes place.
  247. Can call special sessions of the legislature in which they must only consider the Governor's agenda. Special sessions are called by gubernatorial 'proclamation'. Proclamations also are used to declare a disaster area and for simple ceremonial items.
  248. Can commute (make shorter) or pardon a person from a sentence or crime committed in the State; including death row inmates.
  249. Can appoint most of the state's administrators; however,
  250. many require 2/3 consent of Senate.
  251. Senator from the appointee's home district must personally endorse the nomination, or won't pass "Senatorial Courtesy".
  252. each has six-year term, no more lame duck appointments by the Gov'nr. - cannot make appointments after November 1 in an election year.
  253. Governor can only put qualified people in positions.
  254. Can only remove persons who were appointed - but needs 2/3 of Senate vote.
  255. Can be removed from office with an Impeachment by the House of Representatives and a vote of Removal by the Senate; each needs a 2/3 vote.
  256. Submits budget to Legislature but it is largely ignored.
  257. Has direct supervision of the Texas Rangers, militia, and Department of Public Safety.
  258. Other constrictions:
  259. Cannot restructure gov't. All major offices are elected.
  260. No transitional help from one administration to another.
  261. Lacks formal authority. Persuasive power is best asset.
  262. The Lt. Governor
  264. The Lt. Governor's role in the Legislature has been discussed earlier. Lt. Governor's role in the executive branch is to become acting Governor when the Governor is not able. This role is also responsible for the staffing of the Lt. Governor's office and the maintenance of the Capitol Building. The position is a 4-year term and receives $7,200 a year in compensation. Because of the broad powers provided in both the Executive and Legislative branches, the Lt. Governor of the State of Texas has more relative power than the Vice-President of the United States.
  266. Attorney General
  268. Elected to a 4-year term.
  270. Considered the "states lawyer." Jurisdiction includes: oil and gas, law enforcement, environmental protection, highways, transportation, antitrust actions, consumer protection, banking, insurance and securities.
  272. 3 Primary responsibilities:
  273. Acts as states lawyer in civil cases. Cannot prosecute criminal cases but: coordinates investigations, assist in the preparation of cases, seek civil sanctions (fines, etc.)
  274. State's advisor: Issues advisory opinions to state and local gov'ts. and authorized to answer questions about state law.
  275. Authorized to investigate activities of corporations and to guard against the rise of monopolies in Texas. Can search corporate records: full, unlimited and unrestricted right to examination of corporate books at any time and as often as deemed necessary. However, office does not use this very often.
  276. Comptroller
  278. Elected to a 4-year term.
  280. The Comptroller of Public Accounts collects and manages the states money. This position is responsible for paying the State's bills, certifying the State's budget before it becomes law and investing the money received from State owned property. This position has the power to disagree with how the governor and legislature intend to spend the state's money. The Comptroller estimates the biennial income which the legislature and governor use to create the budget.
  282. Land Commissioner
  284. Elected to a 4-year term.
  286. The State of Texas owns millions of acres of property in which leases for mining, natural resource excavation and other uses. The Land commissioner manages all of Texas' properties.
  288. Commissioner of Agriculture
  290. Elected to a 4-year term.
  292. Grants, loans, licensing, regulations, research, education and anything else which has to do with Agriculture is controlled by the Commissioner of Agriculture.
  294. Texas Railroad Commission
  296. A regulatory 3-member board in which each board member serves for a 6-year term that overlaps the other two. The RR Commission regulates all gas and oil production in the State.
  298. State Board of Education
  300. The State Board of Education oversees the Texas Education Agency which is responsible for distribution of State monies to school districts. They also determine the textbooks which schools may be used by local school districts.
  302. Non-Elected Executives
  304. This section is devoted to the non-elected state-wide executive positions. These positions are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
  306. Secretary of State
  308. The Secretary of State serves at the pleasure of the Governor, which means that new governors usually appoint a new Secretary of State when they are newly elected. The Secretary of State's office is responsible for elections in Texas and as a repository for all of the records kept by the State.
  310. The Adjutant General
  312. Under direct control of the Governor for a two-year term, the Adjutant General is the State's highest ranking military officer. This position is over the Texas National Guard and the Texas State Guard.
  314. Health and Human Services Commissioner
  316. This position is nominated by the governor with consent of the Senate and serves four years at the pleasure of the governor. This person is directly responsible for the Texas Child Welfare Services, food safety regulations, and other health and welfare departments.
  318. Insurance Commissioner
  320. Serves a two-year term after confirmed by the Senate, oversees all of the insurance industry in the State.
  323. The Bureaucracy
  324. The Bureaucracy is the complex Executive system of offices made up of Departments and, under them, agencies, whose jobs are to carry out, or implement, the law. It is designed in such a way that the following organizational characteristics are evident. These characteristics are: specialization; hierarchy; and formal rules. Bureaucratic agencies also have limited 'interpretation' power of the law so that it can be formalized with policies and procedures.
  326. Specialization:
  327. Refers to the compartmentalization of jobs. Each individual is hired for a specific purpose. This creates an environment of specialists whose focus is on their own function within the agency. The down side to the specialization process is that communication between departments is limited and many times conflicting.
  328. Hierarchy:
  329. Refers to the chain of command within an organization. Normally, commands run from the top down. This type of communication creates an environment of uniformity but can also create havoc when problems occur at lower levels that cannot be communicated from the bottom up.
  330. Formal rules:
  331. Apply to all bureaucracies. They are the Policies and Procedures that all employees and beneficiaries of the bureaucratic agency must follow. This strict adherence to the rules assures that everyone will receive the same treatment within and from the agency. However, when exceptions to the rules occur, there is little that can be done because the rules may not envision all circumstances, and in some cases, unexpected consequences may occur from normal application of the rules.
  332. The Bureaucracy also has the function of implementing, or carrying out the law. In order to do so, they must be able to interpret the law, even if it is a confusing and contradicting law, so that it can be implemented. Remember, they have limited 'interpretation' power -- it is only used to create policies and procedures that facilitate the carrying out of the law.
  333. Implementation: the act of putting law into practice. It is the duty of the Executive to implement laws that are passed by Congress and signed by the President. It is also the responsibility of the Executive to implement judicial decisions made by the Supreme Court. This is known as 'judicial implementation.'
  334. Policies: a definition of the law relating to the set of rules that must be followed under the new law.
  335. Procedures: the way in which the rules of the law are applied; steps or guidelines to participate in the new program or how to follow the new law. Agencies must carry out the law; citizens are the primary beneficiaries of bureaucratic policies and must abide by the procedures.
  336. Policymaking: the act of creating the procedures that will facilitate the implementation of law. When a bureaucratic agency creates policy and procedure based on law, this is called 'policymaking' and it can be as powerful as the original law when it is challenged in court. If a group or individual does not like the policy created by an agency and decides to challenge it in court, judgements will usually fall with the agency if the spirit of the law has been adhered to.
  337. Policymaking is sometimes more powerful than an actual law in other ways, as well. Bureaucratic agencies must have strict guidelines for implementing, or carrying out law. With limited budget and personnel, it is important that bureaucratic policymaking allow the agency to include as many beneficiaries as possible while keeping those who do not qualify from taking valuable time and resources from the agency. Therefore, policymaking allows for tighter controls on program participants and helps to limit government waste of personnel and resources.
  338. Iron Triangles: A graph which shows the relationship between the Executive branch (bureaucracy), the legislative branch and interest groups. (See the Iron Triangle Graph, Unit 3.3.) The legislature is responsible for making the law; interest groups keep watch, provide information and money to legislators for favorable laws; and, bureaucracies are responsible for putting the law into action.
  339. Texas Iron Star: The Texas Iron Star is an expanded version of an iron triangle. In Texas, both Houses of the legislature and the executive boards, commissions and agencies have their own points on the Iron Star. In Texas, both parts of the legislature has it's own agenda when it comes to passing laws. Bureaucratic agencies are not always loyal to the Governor because they are elected or appointed without the ability of the governor to remove them from their job.
  340. Texas government is fragmented and, because of the limited time that the legislature is in session and the limited powers of the governor, the bureaucracy in Texas has much more direct power in governing than any other part of government.
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