Texas Constitution

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Texas Constitution
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The Texas Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Texas.

The current Texas State Constitution took effect in 1876; it is the seventh constitution in the state's history and the fifth constitution since Texas achieved statehood.[1][2]

From 1876 through January 2015, the Texas State Legislature has proposed 666 amendments to the state's current constitution. Through November 2014, 663 have gone before Texas voters and 484 of those proposed amendments have been approved by voters and added to the constitution; this is an overall 73% approval rate. For reasons that are lost to history, three of the 666 proposed amendments have never made it to the ballot.[3]


The Texas Constitution describes the structure and function of the government of Texas. It consists of a preamble and 17 articles.


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Texas Constitution states:

Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God the people of the State of Texas do ordain and establish this Constitution.[4]

Article 1: Bill of Rights

Article 1 of the Texas Constitution is entitled the "Bill of Rights" and consists of 37 sections. The article originally contained 29 sections; since 1876, five sections have been added. Most of the article's provisions concern specific fundamental limitations on the power of the state government and certain rights granted to citizens that cannot be ignored under any circumstances.

Every provision of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution has a counterpart in Article 1 of the Texas Constitution.

Article 2: Power of Government

Article 1 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as the "Power of Government" and provides for the separation of the powers of the government.

Article 3: Legislative Department

Article 3 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Legislative Department" and consists of 67 sections. It vests the legislative power of the state in the "Legislature of the State of Texas" and establishes that the legislature consists of the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives.

Article 4: Executive Department

Article 4 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as "Executive Department" and consists of 26 sections. It describes the powers and duties the state's executive officials.

Article 5: Judicial Department

Article 5 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as the "Judicial Department" and consists of 31 sections. It describes the composition, powers and jurisdiction of the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals, the District, County and Commissioners Courts and the Justice of the Peace Courts.

Article 6: Suffrage

Article 6 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Suffrage" and consists of six sections. This article denies voting rights to minors, felons and people who are deemed mentally incompetent by a court.

Article 7: Education

Article 7 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Education" and consists of 19 sections. It establishes provisions for public schools, asylums and universities. This article also discusses the creation and maintenance of the Permanent University Fund and mandates the establishment of a "university of the first class" (the University of Texas) as well as an agricultural and mechanical university (Texas A&M University).[4]

Article 8: Taxation and Revenue

Article 8 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Taxation and Revenue" and consists of 24 sections. It places various restrictions on the ability of the Legislature and local governments to impose taxes. Most of these restriction concern local property taxes and, in some cases, prohibits statewide property taxes). Texas does not have a personal income tax, and section 24, added by an amendment adopted in 1993, restricts the ability of the Texas State Legislature to impose such a tax.

Article 9: Counties

Article 9 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as "Counties" and consists of 17 sections. It provides rules for the creation of counties and determining the location of county seats.

Article 10: Railroads

Article 10 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Railroads." It originally consisted of nine sections, but one has been repealed.

Article 11: Municipal Corporations

Article 11 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Municipal Corporations" and consists of 13 sections, of which two have been repealed. It recognizes counties as legal political subunits of the state, grants certain powers to cities and counties and empowers the legislature to form school districts.

Article 12: Private Corporations

Article 12 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Private Corporations" and consists of seven sections, of which five have been repealed.

Article 13: Spanish and Mexican Land Titles

Article 13 of the Texas Constitution was repealed on August 5, 1969. It was labeled as "Spanish and Mexican Land Titles" and established provisions for Spanish and Mexican land titles.

Article 14: Public Lands and Land Office

Article 14 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as "Public Lands and Land Office" and consists of its eight sections, of which all but one were repealed in 1969. Its single section establishes the General Land Office and the office of commissioner of the General Land Office.

Article 15: Impeachment

Article 15 of the Texas Constitution is labeled "Impeachment" and consists of nine sections. It lays out the rules under which Texas government officials can be removed from office and describes the process of impeachment. The Texas House of Representatives is granted the power of impeachment.

Article 16: General Provisions

Article 16 of the Texas Constitution is entitled "General Provisions" and consists of 76 sections.

Miscellaneous provisions include limits on interest rates, civil penalties for murder, the punishment for bribery, prohibits garnishment of wages and provides for the constitutional protection of a mechanic's lien.

Article 17: Mode of Amending the Constitution of This State

Article 17 of the Texas Constitution is entitled "Mode of Amending the Constitution of This State" and consists of two sections, of which one has been repealed. It prescribes the procedure for amending the constitution.

Amending the constitution

See also: Amending state constitutions, Laws governing ballot measures in Texas and Article 17, Texas Constitution

As laid out in Article 17, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to go before the people, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.

Amendments may be proposed in either regular or special sessions.

Joint resolutions endorsing a proposed amendment must include the text of the proposed constitutional amendment and specify an election date. These joint resolutions may include more than one proposed amendment.

If more than one proposition is under consideration on a ballot, the Texas Secretary of State conducts a random drawing to assign each proposition a ballot number.

If voters reject an amendment, the legislature can resubmit it. For example, after Proposition 2 was rejected in August 1991, the legislature re-adopted it and re-submitted it for that year's November ballot, where it was approved as Texas Proposition 13 (1991).

The ballot wording of a proposition is specified in the joint resolution adopted by the Legislature, which has broad discretion in this matter. Texas courts have heard challenges to proposed ballot wording but have generally ruled that "ballot language is sufficient if it describes the proposed amendment with such definiteness and certainty that voters will not be misled."[5]

The Legislature may call an election for voter consideration of proposed constitutional amendments on any date, as long as election authorities have sufficient time to provide notice to the voters and print the ballots.

A brief explanatory statement of the nature of each proposed amendment, along with the ballot wording for each amendment, must be published twice in each newspaper in the state that prints official notices. The first notice must be published 50 to 60 days before the election. The second notice must be published on the same day of the subsequent week. The secretary of state must send a complete copy of each amendment to each county clerk, who must post it in the courthouse at least 30 days prior to the election.

The secretary of state drafts the ballot explanation. This must be approved by the Attorney General of Texas.

Constitutional amendments take effect when the official vote canvass confirms statewide majority approval, unless a later date is specified. Statewide election results are tabulated by the secretary of state and must be canvassed by the governor 15 to 30 days following the election.


On February 15, 1876, the current Texas state constitution took effect. This version is the state's fifth document since Texas achieved statehood. Prior to entering the United States, Texas had an additional two constitutions, the Coahuila y Tejas and the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas.[6] Once statehood was achieved, Texas adopted a constitution in 1845, 1861, 1866, 1869 and 1876.[7][8]

The current constitution included 289 sections organized into 17 articles when it was ratified in 1876. Since then, 211 new sections have been added, and 66 of the original sections plus 49 of the added sections have been removed. Today the constitution has a total of 385 sections.[9]

Texas constitution is one the of longest and oldest still in effect. The Alabama Constitution, although ratified 25 years after Texas's had been deemed the longest and most chaotic having been amended almost 800 times.[9]

See also

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