As some of you may know, Texas currently has an election taking place on constitutional amendments. But why? In this post, get a brief understanding of the Texas Constitution, why it needs to be changed so often, and why Texas is still using the constitution written in 1876.
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The Constitution of 1876
The current Texas Constitution is the Constitution of 1876. The keys to understanding the Texas Constitution is understanding the time period the constitution comes from and that it is vastly different from the United States Constitution.
With such a vast state that was primarily focused on agriculture, there would be little engagement from the everyday citizen with the state government. Therefore, the farmers created the Texas Constitution so that it is specific and limited in the powers it gives to the state government. This varies from the federal government, which is granted a large amount of leeway under the Necessary and Proper clause. Since the state constitution has such limited powers, it must be revised for a variety of government functions that we would consider essential today.
In order to expand the functions of the state government, the constitution must be amended. The constitution requires two votes to be amended. The first vote is in the state legislature, where the amendment must pass with a two-thirds majority in both chambers. The second vote is when the proposed amendments are taken to voters to approve or disapprove. Hence, why we have an election this November!
Why hasn’t the Texas Constitution changed?
Considering how drastically the state has changed since 1876, it’s a fair question to ask why the Texas Constitution hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, the Texas Constitution does not provide a mechanism for a new constitution to be written. This means that holding any sort of constitutional convention is a difficult process. The most recent and extensive revision was held during the 1974 constitutional convention. That convention failed and the Constitution of 1876 remains as the Texas Constitution.
Want to learn more? Use these helpful links:
Texas State Historical Society:
Texas Tribune Texplainer:
Watch this interesting film found in the Texas Archives by the Texas Constitutional Revision Commission produced in 1972:
A New Constitution for Texas (1974), opens a new window