Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Here We Go Again

Last Tuesday the Texas Legislature began to solve problems that accumulated for 730 days in a 140-day session. Our state’s constitution which has been amended dozens of times requires that the Legislature meet not more than 140 days every other year.

History gives us several reasons that our state’s constitution requires the Legislature to meet only every other year. And, limits it to a certain period of time. The original requirement put a 120-day limit but was amended in the late 60s to increase the time to 140 days. In the 1870s there was still much to do about the result of the Civil War plus the fact that the Legislature was an agrarian state and it was not easy to travel far for the sake of politics. Obviously, in the 1970s you could not get Southwest Airlines from El Paso to Austin. From the beginning of our constitution there has always been a mistrust of the Legislature. For example, when the amendment passed changing the session from 120 days to 140 it only authorized pay for the legislators for 120 of those days.

Our state’s constitution is crammed full of useless and out-of-date provisions, many of which are ignored more than observed. There have been several attempts to cure this failing including the Constitutional Convention of 1970 when a new constitution was created and submitted to the voters of Texas. It was roundly defeated. In my opinion, the primary reason for its defeat was the fact that there was a great deal of publicity of what was contained in the new constitution but people were unaware of how bad the old one was.

There are still many advocates for leaving the Legislature meetings on a Bi-Annual basis. Texas has a powerful lobby, most of whom support every other session, primarily because meeting that infrequently increases the power of not only the executive branch of government including the attorney general, governor, lieutenant governor and speaker but also greatly enhances the power of special interest lobbyists. We should recall for all the time our legislature is not meeting, our representative government is being handled by someone whom we have never had the opportunity to vote on or select. In other words, the state is being run by bureaucrats. I know of no one who would favor having our school board meet every other year and yet Texans seem to tolerate the billions dollars of its tax money and solutions to major problems being addressed only for 140 days in each odd number of years. Although we tried to write a new constitution and failed; that’s no good reason we should not try again.


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