8: The Executive
The Executive Branch
The governor has limited constitutional powers.
During the Reconstruction era,
TXs cabinet style, strong-executive type government was dishonest and inefficient;
TX has a weak executive model because of the administration of
E J Davis who had almost dictatorial powers; Delegates
who drafted the 1876 Constitution deliberately sought to restrict gubernatorial power
(governor must share power with other elected officials)
- Fragmented Executive Branch
- Lt. Governor
- Attorney General
- Commissioner of Public Land
- Commissioner of Agriculture
- Comptroller of Public Accounts
- The founding fathers made the Executive Branch weak because they were afraid of it
holding too much power.
- The Governor has no power over the other branches that are elected.
- Elected in state-wide election held in even number years called off-year (no
- Takes office on the first Tuesday after the legislature convenes after his election
- Term of office extended in 1974 from two years to four
- Formal qualifications for the office of the governor include:
- According to the Constitution, must be at least 30 years old
- U. S. citizen
- Resident of Texas for five years immediately preceding election
- Required to believe in a supreme being
- Can not be a member of the Communist, Nazi, or Fascist Party
- Can not hold any other office, either corporate, civic, or literary
- Informal qualifications (determined by social, political and economical realities)
- Very wealthy
- Middle-aged (late 40s to mid 50s)
- Involved in civic affairs
- Have a short pronounceable name
- Talk, walk, and act like a Texan
- In 1954 earned $12,000, currently $115,345.
- Other compensations include:
- Official mansion
- Travel and operating budget
- State-owned aircraft
- Offices and professional staff
- There are no limits on the number of terms a governor may serve in Texas.
- Removal and Succession
- May be removed only by impeachment proceedings
- The Constitution is silent as to what offenses are impeachable.
- Official misconduct is an impeachable offense.
- Governor James Ferguson was impeached
- Impeachment Process
- House of Representatives indicts by a majority vote
- Then the Senate acts as a trial court
- Senate convicts with a 2/3 vote
- Penalty for conviction is removal from office and the forfeiture of holding any state
governmental position (not national)
- If there are criminal charges they must be brought in a regular court of law.
- During the impeachment process, the Lieutenant Governor becomes acting governor.
- If the governor is impeached, the constitution provides for the Lieutenant Governor to
become the governor.
- The order of succession after him is:
- President Pro Tempore of Senate
- Speaker of the House
- Attorney General
- Chief Justices of courts of appeals
- If the Governor and Lieutenant Governor dies or cannot serve before taking office, the
legislature would choose the new Governor.
- Roles of Governor and limitations
- Formal roles
- Chief Executive
- Control over state bureaucracy, appointment, removal and budgeting powers
- One of the weakest powers
- Control shared with five other elected officials
- Appointment Power
- According to the Constitution, the only top level appointment the governor may make are:
- Secretary of State
- Adjutant General
- Lesser important positions he fills:
Commissioner of Education
Commissioner of Insurance
Commissioner of Health and Human Services
Executive Director of the Commerce Department
The Director of Office of State-Federal Relations
Appoints most of the 125 policy making, multimember boards of commissions of the state
- Appointive power also extends to fill vacancies
- State Judges
- Heads of Executive Department
- Members of RR commission
- Also if a U.S. Senator from Texas dies or resigns before the expiration of his term, the
vacancy is filled by a gubernatorial appointee.
- If vacancy occurs in the Texas Legislature or in the Texas delegation in the House of
Representatives at the National level, the governor must call a special election to fill
- All of the governors appointments must receive 2/3 approval by the Senate. The
president needs only a simple majority from the U.S. Senate.
- If the Senate is not in session, the person starts the job pending confirmation by the
Senate when they meet again.
- Senatorial Courtesy
- The governors appointee must be okayed by a Senator from the appointees home
district of the Senate will not usually confirm the appointment.
- The governor has no independent removal power except personal staff he can remove
his appointees only by a 2/3 vote of approval by the Senate or the appointee may be
removed by impeachment
- Legislative address and Quo Warranato
- The governor may remove executive officers after legislative address is initiated by a
2/3 vote of each house of legislature.
- Quo Warranto proceedings are initiated by the Texas Attorney General and involve the
trial of a state official, who if found guilty of some official misconduct, may be removed
- The Governor by law must submit a biennial budget to the legislature.
- The Legislative budget board also prepares a budget for the Legislature to consider.
- In Texas there is always two drafts of a budget.
- The Legislature is traditionally guided more by the draft prepared by the legislative
board than by the one prepared by the Governor.
- the Chief Legislator
- Message Power
- He may give a message to the Legislature at any time
- The constitution requires a gubernatorial address when the legislative session opens and
when a governor retires.
- He may also deliver a biennial budget message
- Session Powers
- The Legislature is forbidden to call itself into special session. Only the governor may
- Called sessions are limited to a maximum of 30 days
- The Governor may call one session after another
- He also sets the agenda for these sessions
- He may not introduce the bill he must have a sympathetic sponsor to do this
- Governors strongest legislative power
- Every bill that passes both houses is sent to the governor.
- If he signs it, it becomes law if not, vetoes
- If he vetoes the bill while legislature is still in session, his veto may be overridden
by 2/3 vote of both houses
- The governor may veto a bill in the last stages of session so the legislature does not
have a chance to over ride it (called Post-adjournment Veto)
- It is so difficult to override a veto that it has happened only once since W.W.II.
- The Texas Governor lack the pocket veto which permits an executive to kill legislation
passed at the end of a session by ignoring it.
- State does not independently engage in warfare with other nations
- Governor has the power to declare martial law, also he is the commander in chief of
state militia and he may call out the state militia in times of disaster
1. Very limited Role
2. All judges in Texas are elected so his influence is limited to filling vacancies;
3. Can give one 30 day reprieve as act of clemency
(release from prison before completion of sentence) recommendation from Board of Pardons
- Chief of State
- Includes riding in parades, hosting dignitaries, etc.
- Chief Intergovernmental diplomat
- Informal Roles of the Governor
- Chief of Party
- Symbolic head of his party
- Key figure at the state party conventions or national conventions
- Leader of the People
- Can serve as principle spokesman
- Can direct public opinion on many issues
- People identify with him
Multiple Choice Questions
Chapter 7: The Executive and the State