Friday, April 9, 2010

The Texas Governor's Powers

Everyone knows the Texas Governor is an inherently weak office and was created as such in the Constitution of 1876. Because of the strong centralized power of Governor Edmund J. Davis, the Democratic Legislature determined to weaken the executive office: 
The governor was empowered to convene the legislature in special sessions, to call out the militia to execute the laws, to suppress insurrections, to protect the frontier against hostile Indians, and to veto laws and items in appropriations bills; his veto, however, could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses. The governor was also empowered to make certain appointments, fill vacancies, and cause the laws to be faithfully executed but was given no control over local or other elected state officials (Handbook of Texas Online).
The limited powers of the Texas Governor can be found in Article 4 of the Texas Constitution.

With all this in mind, Rep. Brian McCall decided to look at how modern governors have been able to work effectively (or ineffectively as the case might be) within this weak institutional structure in his book - The Power of the Texas Governor. Starting with John Connally and ending with George Bush, McCall recounts how each governor got elected, formed their agenda, interacted with the Legislature, and what they learned in the process. He interviewed the people who worked for these governors and the reporters who covered them. The result is a collection of stories of inside Texas politics that make for some interesting reading. 

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