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Inside Texas Politics Power, Policy, and Personality in the Lone Star State

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  • Edition: 4th
  • Format: Loose-leaf
  • Copyright: 2023-01-19
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Accessible and memorable for today's students, Inside Texas Politics presents Texas government through an "insider's perspective" using engaging stories, contemporary news events, and current scholarship to help students understand and analyze politics in the great state of Texas.

Author Biography

Brandon Rottinghaus is Professor and Pauline Yelderman Chair of the department of Political Science at the University of Houston. He is co-host of the Party Politics Podcast on Houston Public Media (KUHF), and the creator of Monday Morning Politics on Fox 26 Houston (KIRV).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Chapter 1: Cultural, Demographic and Political Trends
1.1 The Origins of Texas
Native Americans
Spanish Settlers
Angles of Power: The Benefits and Challenges of Diversity
African Americans
1.2 Continuity and Change in the Texas Economy
Food and Fiber
King Cattle (And Other Four-Legged Friends)
Military and Defense Industries
High Tech
Health Care
Recreation and Retirements
Assessing the Texas Economy
Great Texas Political Debates: Access on State Documents
1.3 Continuity and Change in the Texas Demographics
State Population Growth
Is it Bigger in Texas: States with the Largest Population Increases
Challenges of Population Growth
Racial and Ethnic Trends in Texas
Challenges of Shifting Racial and Ethnic Trends
An Aging State
Challenges of an Aging Texas
1.4 Continuity and Change in Texas Political Culture
Insider Interview: Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle Writer
Individualistic Political Culture
Traditionalistic Political Culture
Culture Conflicts

Chapter 2: The Texas Constitution
2.1 Constitutional Government
2.2 The Roots of Rebellion and the Declaration of Independence
2.3 The 1836 Constitution of the Republic
2.4 The 1845 Constitution of the (New) State of Texas
2.5 Succession, Reconstruction, and the Constitutions of 1861, 1866 and 1869
The 1861 Constitution --"The Confederacy Constitution"
The 1866 Constitution --"The Readmission Constitution"
The 1869 Constitution --"The Reconstruction Constitution"
2.6 The Constitution of 1876--The Current Constitution
The Crafting of the 1876 Constitution
Principles of the Texas Constitution
Insider Interview: Former Chief Justice Tom Philips
Great Texas Political Debates: Confederate Flag License Plates and the Battle over Free Speech
2.7 Amending the Constitution
Constitutional Amendments
Recent Major Reform Attempts
Is it Bigger in Texas: Number of Words in State Constitutions
Angles of Power: Debates About Amending the Constitution

Chapter 3: Federalism
3.1 Organizing the Constitutional System
The Supremacy Clause
Enumerated and Implied Powers
Reserved Powers
Concurrent Powers
Full Faith and Credit
3.2 Advantages of Federalism
A Stronger Central Government
Angles of Power: Texas, the Military, and Jade Helm
Policy Innovation
Trust in Levels of Government
3.3 Texas and Federal Funding
Is It Bigger in Texas: Federal Aid as a Percentage of General Revenue
3.4 Styles of Federalism
Dual Federalism
Cooperative Federalism
New Federalism
Coercive Federalism
Insider Interview: Michael C. Massengale, Appeals Court Judge
3.5 Texas and Conflicts Over Federalism
Texas Versus Washington
Tidelands Controversy
Red River Border Dispute
Great Texas Political Debates: Sanctuary Cities
Voter Identification at Election Places
Common Core Education Standards

Chapter 4: Voting and Elections
4.1 Voting in Texas
Types of Elections
Early Voting
Mobile Voting
Election Day
4.2 Suffrage Struggles and Their Consequences
Literacy Tests
Poll Tax
White Primary
Angles of Power: Political Machines
Insider Interview: Victor Morales, U.S. Senatorial Candidate in 1996, US House Candidate in 1998
African Americans
Asian Americans
4.3 Voter Turnout in Texas
Why Texans Don't Vote
Social Pressure and Political Socialization
Is It Bigger in Texas: Voter Turnout By State, 2016
How Can Voter Turnout be Increased?
Voter ID
4.4 How to Campaign, Texas Style
Building Campaign Infrastructure
Image, Limelight, and the Media
Negative Campaigning
Courting the Base
Surfing National Trends
Funding Elections
4.5 Who Wins and Why
Money and Election Outcomes
Parties and Straight Ticket Voting
Incumbents and Voter Turnout
Great Texas Political Debates: "No Excuse" Mail Voting
The Electoral System
Will Texas Turn Blue?

Chapter 5: Political Parties: Texas in Blue and Red
5.1 The Functions of Parties
Simplifying Electoral Choices
Recruiting Candidates
Mobilizing Voters
Articulating Interests
Organizing Government
5.2 Party Organization
Precinct Chairs
County Party Chairs
State Party Chair
Party Executive Committees
Party Conventions
State Party Platforms
5.3 Rise and Fall of Political Parties in Texas
Democratic Reign in the Postbellum Era
The Decline of the Democrats
The Rise of the Republicans
Tea Party
Fissures in the Republican Party
Lessons from Texas Party Politics
Insider Interview: Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Party Chair
5.4 Party Competition
Is it Bigger in Texas? Party Competition: 1972-2015
Legislative Redistricting
The 2001 and 2003 Redistricting Battles: The Drama Begins
Angles of Power: The 2003 Redistricting Battle and the Killer Ds
Party Switching
Great Texas Political Debates: Switching Parties
5.5 Third Parties and Independents
La Raza Unida Party
Libertarian Party of Texas
Green Party of Texas

Chapter 6: Interest Groups
6.1 Interest Groups in the Political Process
Pluralist Theory
Elite Theory
Transactional Theory
Which Theory Fits Texas?
6.2 Why Join Interest Groups?
The Free Rider Problem
Selective Benefits
6.3 Types of Interest Groups
Business Groups
Trade Associations and Professional Organizations
Labor Unions
Is It Bigger in Texas? Rates of Union Membership
Identity Groups
Public Interest Groups
Single-Issue Groups
Government Interests
6.4 What Interest Groups Do
Citizen Campaigns
Lobbying the Courts, the Legislature, and the Executive Branch
6.5 Lobbying: The Third House
The Role of Lobbyists
What Lobbyists Do
Insider Interview: Andrea McWilliams, Co-Founder of McWilliams Government Affairs Consultants
Iron Triangles in Texas
Is It Bigger in Texas? Number of Years Elected Officials Must Wait Before Becoming Lobbyists
6.6 Scandals and Reforms
Sharpstown Scandal
The 1991 Reforms
Current Ethics Legislation
6.7 Oversight of Interest Groups
Texas Ethics Commission
Great Texas Political Debates: Donations and Legal Defense Funds

Chapter 7: The Legislature
7.1 The Functions of the Legislature and Legislators
Texas House vs. Senate
Winning Reelection
7.2 The Texas Legislature in Context
The Legislative Session
Is It Bigger in Texas? Length of Legislative Session
Legislative Staff
Legislative Boards and Councils
Great Texas Political Debates: Should Texas Have Annual Legislative Sessions?
Incumbency and Turnover
Consequences of the Texas Legislative Structure
7.3 How the Legislature is Organized
The Committee System
Speaker of the House
Angles of Power: Choosing a Speaker
The Lieutenant Governor
7.4 The Legislative Process
In Committee
On the Floor
House and Senate Agreement
In Conference Committee
The Real Enemy: The Calendar
Rules Rule the Chambers
7.5 Working Together
Slowing It Down
Speeding It Up
Increasing Partisanship
7.6 Demographic Representation
Women Legislators
African Americans
Insider Interview: Senfronia Thompson, State Representative, Houston, Texas
Religion and Other Factors

Chapter 8: Governors of Texas
8.1 Rules of the Office
Informal Qualifications
Removal from Office
Is It Bigger in Texas: Governor Staff Size
Salary and Staff
8.2 Formal Powers of Texas Governors
Execution of Laws
Appointment Powers
Is It Bigger in Texas: Unilateral Executive Orders by Governor in Select States
Legislative Powers
Military Powers
Judicial Powers: Pardon and Clemency
8.3 Informal Powers of Texas Governors
Legislative Bargaining
Insider Interview: Former Democratic Governor Mark White
Agenda Setting
Great Texas Political Debates: Budget Powers of the Governor
8.4 Weak and Strong Governor
Is It Bigger in Texas? Governor Power by State
Sheer Length of Term
Angles of Power: A "Power Grab" or Efficient Executive?
Party Power
Criticisms and Reforms

Chapter 9: The Plural Executive and the Bureaucracy
9.1 Bureaucracy in Texas
The Size of the Texas Bureaucracy
Is It Bigger in Texas? State Employees per 10,000 Residents, 2015
What the Texas Bureaucracy Does
The Structure of the Texas Bureaucracy
9.2 Independently Elected Officers
Lieutenant Governor
Is It Bigger in Texas? Lieutenant Governor Power Index
Angles of Power: The Power of the Lieutenant Governor Beyond Politics
Insider Interview: David Dewhurst, Former Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Texas
Attorney General
Comptroller of Public Accounts
Commissioner of the General Land Office
Agriculture Commissioner
Plural Executive Feuds
9.3 Governor-Appointed, Single-Head Agencies
Secretary of State
Commissioner for Health and Human Services
Department of Insurance
9.4 Governor-Appointed, Multimember Agencies
Public Utility Commission
Department of Transportation
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
9.5 Multimember Elected Commissions and Hybrid Agencies
Texas Railroad Commission
Texas Ethics Commission
State Board of Education
9.6 Controlling the Bureaucracy
Selection of the Bureaucracy
Sluggish Policymaking
Oversight and Change
Great Texas Political Debates: Sunset Sunset?

Chapter 10: The Texas Judiciary
10.1 The Role of the Courts
Dispensing Justice
Is It Bigger in Texas: Total Trial Courts
Interpreting the Law
10.2 Trial Courts
Local Courts
County Trial Courts
State District Courts
10.3 Appellate Courts
Intermediate Appellate Courts
Appellate Courts of Last Resort
10.4 Quality of Justice in Texas
Angles of Power: Two Supreme Courts?
Caseloads: Overworked Judges?
Length of Court Cases
Salary: Underpaid Judges?
Is It Bigger in Texas? Salaries of Judges in the Five Most Populous States
Turnover of Judges
Access to Justice
10.5 Judicial Selection and Removal
Judicial Selection in Texas
Insider Interview: Former Justice Reveca Aizpuru Huddle, First Court of Appeals
Censure and Removal from Office
Judicial Qualifications
Problems with Partisan Elections
10.6 Who Are the Justices?
African Americans
10.7 Reforming the System
Non-Partisan Elections
Merit Selection
Public Financing of Elections
Limiting Fundraising Totals
Great Texas Political Debates: The "Geezer Amendment" and Age Limits

Chapter 11: Criminal Justice
11.1 Texan Justice
Rights of the Accused
Victim Rights
11.2 Types of Crimes
Drug Crimes
Juvenile Crime
11.3 Criminal Justice Process in Texas
Angles of Power: Race and Finances in the Texas Prison System
Is It Bigger in Texas: State and Federal Prisoners under Jurisdiction of Correctional Authorities
Great Texas Political Debates: Prison Conditions in Texas
Death Penalty
11.4 Life After Prison
Restricted Licensing, Employment, and Access to Programs
Voting Rights
Is It Bigger in Texas: Restrictions on Voting Post Felony by State
11.5 Reforms
Alternatives to Incarceration
Bail Reforms
Addressing Prison Suicides
Grand Jury Reform
Death Penalty Reform
Insider Interview: Former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Cathy Cochran

Chapter 12: Local Government
12.1 The Powers and Functions of Local Government
Dillon's Rule
Great Texas Political Debates: Paid Sick Leave
Local Regulation
12.2 County Government
Is It Bigger in Texas? Number of Local Governments
County Judge and Commissioner's Court
County Sheriff
County Prosecutors
County Administrators
County Finance Officials
12.3 City Governments
General Law Cities
Home Rule Cities
Insider Interview: Local Activist Barry Klein, Texas Property Rights Association
12.4 Types of City Government
Mayor-Council System
Commission Government
Council-Manager System
12.5 Special Districts
Is It Bigger in Texas? Special Purpose Districts Nationwide
School Districts
Special Improvement Districts
Junior/Community College Districts
Library Districts
Municipal Utility Districts
Hospital Districts
Homeowners' Associations
12.6 Elections
County Elections
City Elections
Minority Representation in Municipal Governments
Low Turnout in Municipal Elections
Voting and Corruption
12.7 Issues in Local Government
Local Governments Short on Cash
Angles of Power: The Stadiums That Ate Texas
Rising Debt
Cooperation Across Governments
To Zone or Not to Zone

Chapter 13: Budget, Finances, and Policy
13.1 Taxes and Other Revenue Sources
Sales Tax
Is It Bigger in Texas: State and Local Sales Taxes, 2019
Property Tax
Insider Interview: Dale Craymer, President of the Texas Taxpayers & Research Association
Angles of Power: Putting a Lid on Property Taxes
Franchise (Business) Taxes
Oil and Natural Gas Taxes
Car Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax ("Gas" Tax) and Motor Vehicle Taxes
Sin Taxes
13.2 Alternative Sources of Funds
Fees and Fines
Great Texas Political Debates: A "Poor Tax"?
The "Rainy Day" And Other Funds
Why No Income Tax?
Debates Over Taxes
13.3 The Budget
Budget Cycle
Budget Limitations
Budget Players and Process
Budget Tricks

Chapter 14: Public Policy In Texas
14.1 Public Policy Priorities and Process
14.2 Health Care and Welfare
Insider Interview: Eva DeLuna Castro, State Budget Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities
Children's Health Insurance Program
The Affordable Care Act
Social Security
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
Great Texas Political Debates: Drug Testing for Benefits
Is It Bigger in Texas? Maximum TANF Benefit As A Percentage Of The Poverty Line
Unemployment Benefits
Workers' Compensation
14.3 Immigration and Border Security
Economic Impact
Public Opinion and State Laws
Deportations and Border Security
14.4 Education
Sources of K-12 Funding
School Finance
Teacher, Student, and School Performance
Angles of Power: Standardized Tests and Education Accountability
Diversity in Public Education
Special Education
14.5 Higher Education
Community Colleges
Affirmative Action
14.6 Transportation
Is It Bigger in Texas? Unmet Demand for Transportation (Percentage of Population)
14.7 Energy and the Environment
Water and Air Pollution
Energy Sources


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