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Government of Texas

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The Government of Texas is structured by the Constitution of the state of Texas which was adopted in 1876 [1]. The Constitution divides the powers of the government of the State into three distinct departments-- the legislative, the executive and the judicial. Texas was granted statehood on December 29, 1845 and Austin is the capital of Texas [2].

Texas Executive Branch

The executive branch is commonly known as a 'plural executive' because many of the offices in the branch of government are elected directly by Texas voters. The Executive Department of the State consists of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Commissioner of the General Land Office, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State. All of them are elected except the Secretary of State as he is appointed by the Governor.

Texas Governor Office Image source: http://gov.texas.gov/
The Governor of Texas[3] is the chief executive of the state. The governor serves for a four year terms and must be at least 30 years old and a resident of Texas for the five years immediately before the election. The duties of the Governor include serving as commander-in-chief of the state's military forces, signing or vetoing bills and convening special sessions of the Legislature, among others. He/she also amends and creates policy that can be introduced as bills by lawmakers in both the state House and Senate chambers. Also the governor appoints the Secretary of state and members of boards and commissions.

The Lieutenant Governor is an important member of both the Legislative and Executive branches. The Lieutenant Governor in Texas takes up the duties of the Governor when the latter is absent from the state. The Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor can use his discretion in following Senate procedural rules and can decide all parliamentary questions.

Texas Legislative Branch

The legislative power of the State of Texas is bestowed on the House of Representatives and a Senate which together constitute the Legislature of the State.

The Texas House of Representatives[4] consists of 150 members who are elected for a term of two years. Every other year the Texas Legislature meets in Regular Session for about five months. The Governor can call the Special Sessions. For one to be qualified to become a member, he must be a citizen of the United States and must be at least 21 years old.

The speaker[5] is the presiding officer of the house of representatives. According to the Texas Constitution the house of representatives is assigned to elect one of its own members to serve as speaker. The speaker attends and manages order during floor debate and also select the legislator who wish to speak  on procedural matters. The speaker signs all bills and joint resolutions passed by the legislature and he/she may vote on all questions before the house.

Texas Senate Image source: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/
The Texas Senate[6] is the upper house in the Texas State Legislature. The Texas Senate is composed of 31 members who represent 31 separate geographical districts in the state. The Senate is currently composed of 18 Republicans and 12 Democrats.


Texas Judicial Branch

The Texas government judicial branch enforces and adjudicates laws in overlapping federal and state and local jurisdictions. The two Supreme court of Texas are the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court of Texas. While the the Court of Criminal Appeals is dedicated to criminal matters, the Supreme Court of Texas handles only civil cases and cases involving juveniles. Also there are 14 courts of appeals, various lower courts and numerous district courts.

The Court of Criminal Appeals is Texas' highest court for criminal cases consisting of a Presiding Judge and eight Judges. The judges are elected by the voters of the entire state and they hold their offices for terms of six years. The Court sits in Austin, near the Capitol and may also sit in other cities, from time to time, to hear cases.

Contact details
Court of Criminal Appeals
Supreme Court Building
201 West 14th Street, Room 106
Austin, Texas 78701
Website: http://www.txcourts.gov/cca

Supreme Court of Texas Image source: http://www.txcourts.gov/supreme
Situated in Austin, the Supreme Court of Texas[7] is the court of last resort for civil matters in Texas. The Supreme Court composes of the Chief Justice and eight Justices where the  Justices are elected to staggered six-year terms. All members of the Court must be a citizen of Texas, at least 35 years of age, licensed to practice law in Texas and must have practiced law for at least ten years. The attorneys in Texas are licensed by the Court also the members of the Board of Law Examiners which administers the Texas bar examination are appointed by the court. By statute the Court has administrative control over the State Bar of Texas. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the Texas Rules of Evidence, the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure and other rules and standards are promulgated by the court.

Contact details
Supreme Court of Texas
Supreme Court Building
201 W. 14th Street, Room 104
Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 463-1312
Fax: (512) 463-1365
Website: http://www.txcourts.gov/supreme

Texas Courts of Appeal

Texas Courts of Appeals consist of 14 courts of appeals that have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases and each court  has power divided according to geographical region. A chief justice presides over each court. Each court also has at least two other justices and the number of justices is set by the statute. There are at present 80 justices authorized for these courts.

Texas Trial Courts

The Texas Trial Courts hear witnesses, receives testimony and renders verdict. These courts are:

District Courts: The district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction of Texas. The District courts have the power to hear all cases including felony criminal cases, divorce cases, cases involving title to land, election contest cases, civil matters in which the amount in dispute or damages involved is $200 or more and any matters in which jurisdiction is not placed in another trial court.

Country court: The Texas Constitution provides for a county court in each of the 254 counties of the state, though all such courts do not exercise judicial functions.

Justice Courts: Based on the population of the county, each county in the State must establish between one and eight justice of the peace precincts.

Municipal Courts: Municipal courts are localized in each of the incorporated cities of the State. The larger cities are served by multiple courts, the number depending upon the population of the city and the needs of the public.

For more information on Texas court click here

Taxes in Texas

The Texas Comptroller's Office[8] handles the state’s finances, tax collector, chief revenue estimator, acts as chief accountant, and chief treasurer for all of state government. Including local sales taxes, the Comptroller's office collects more than 60 separate taxes and fees and assessments. The state of Texas imposes a state sales tax on all retail sales, taxable services and leases and rentals of most goods. The rate of Texas state sales and use tax is 6.25%. There can also be an imposition of 2% on sales and use tax by local taxing jurisdictions making a total maximum combined rate of 8.25%. A privilege tax is imposed on each taxable entity organized or chartered in Texas and is known as Texas franchise tax.

Contact details
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Lyndon B. Johnson State Office Building
111 East 17th Street
Austin, Texas 78774
Website: http://www.window.state.tx.us/

Important Executive Agencies in Texas

There are many state agencies operating in Texas to manage and administer the smooth functioning of the state. The main state agencies of Texas are:

Texas Department of Public Safety

The Texas Department of Public Safety works to combat crime and terrorism in US. It enhances highway and public safety and statewide emergency management. Enhancing public safety licensing and regulatory services are other works of the department.

Contact details
Texas Department of Public Safety
5805 North Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas  78752-4431
Phone: (512) 424-2000
Website: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Image source: http://www.txdmv.gov
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) is a state agency that works as a customer service and consumer protection as well as the success of motor vehicle-related industries. It is one of the state agencies that help to strengthen the revenue for the state. The funds collected by the agency is primarily used to build and maintain the state’s roads and bridges.


Contact details
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
4000 Jackson Ave., Bldg. 1
Austin, Texas, 78731
Phone: 888-368-4689
Email: askdmv@dmv.state.tx.us
Website: http://www.txdmv.gov/

Comptroller of Public Accounts

The Texas Comptroller's office looks after the state’s finances, chief revenue estimator, acting as tax collector and chief treasurer for all of state government. The Texas Comptroller's office collects more than 60 separate taxes and  fees and assessments which includes local sales taxes.

Contact details
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Lyndon B. Johnson State Office Building
111 East 17th Street
Austin, Texas 78774
Website: http://www.window.state.tx.us/

Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation is a government agency in Texas which provides safe and reliable transportation solutions throughout the state. The Texas Department of Transportation works for the construction and maintenance of the state's immense highway system and is also responsible for rail and public transportation systems and overseeing aviation in the state.

Contact details
Texas Department of Transportation
25 E 11th St
Austin,  TX  78701
Phone: (512) 463-8585
Fax: (512) 463-9896
Website: http://www.txdot.gov/

Texas Department of State Health Services

The Texas Department of State Health Services is a state agency of Texas which looks after the health facilities and well being of the citizens. Created in 2003, the department provides state-operated health care services, hospitals, health centers and health agencies in the state. The agency is headquartered at the Central Campus at 1100 West 49th Street in Austin.

Contact details
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 W 49th St
Austin,  TX  78756-3199
Phone: (512) 458-7111
Website: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is responsible to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of
Park and Wildlife Image source: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/
Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of people. It implements effective natural resources conservation and outdoor recreational programs and ensure the most efficient and effective use of tax-payer and user fee resources.

Contact details
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Rd
Austin, Texas, 78744
Phone: (512) 389-4800
Email: webcomments@tpwd.state.tx.us
Website: http://tpwd.texas.gov/

References:
  1. Texas Constitution
  2. Texas Statehood
  3. Texas Governor
  4. Texas House of representatives
  5. Speaker of Texas House
  6. Texas Senate
  7. Supreme Court
  8. Texas Comptroller's Office
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