Texas Politics and Government Sites
See the Texas State Data Center for population / demographic figures.
Many Voices: Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Older Texans from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
The Handbook of Texas Online is produced by the Texas State Historical Association. The site provides summaries of the events and persons of Texas history and politics.
The Tides in Early Texas History collaborative digital project -- found at http://tides.sfasu.edu/home.html [link down] -- creates a platform in which cultural heritage institutions and educators can work together to enrich learning experiences for students, bridge gaps between disciplines and increase access to unique cultural collections. The gathering of all forms of cultural history around a topic offers a more complete story of the past than any one piece could do alone. The result is a unique tool for educators to teach early Texas history and information literacy. The Texas Tides project addresses the needs of educators, researchers and students for readily accessible primary and secondary cultural resource materials. The Tides web site documents early Texas history (prehistory until AD 1900) with an east Texas slant. In addition, The Texas Tides project meets the needs of Texas history teachers for curriculum material that will not only meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) guidelines, but also help prepare their students for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test (TAKS).
The Future is Texas (The Economist, (economist.com), December 19, 2002) -- an interesting look at Texas' political culture
Texas Tripper -- A guide to travel in the Lone Star State
The Texas Constitution, adopted in 1876, is a marvel of inefficiency. Feel free to browse through what is probably one of the longest and most confusing constitutions in the world. Don't try to print it though ... you don't have enough paper! The Texas Legislative Reference Library has summaries of constitutional amendments.
Versions of the Texas Constitution from 1824-1876 are available from the Texas Legal History Digital Library of the Tarleton Law Library at the University of Texas at Austin
The Constitution of the State of Texas: An Annotated and Comparative Analysis
The Texas Governor has his own web page even though he has very little power in state government. Check out the page. Betcha it's a lot more impressive than the office itself!
If you are interested in interest groups in Texas, you need to become familiar with the state agency that regulates them. The Texas Ethics Commission serves as a repository of required disclosure statements for state officials, candidates, political committees and lobbyists and, consequently, serves as a clearinghouse of information for public and press inquiries.
See the Texas Workforce Commission for information on the Texas labor market.
Texas is one of the few states that actually reviews its agencies periodically under the state Sunset Act. Visit the web site of the state Sunset Commission.
Texas Administrative Code -- Regulations created by Texas state agencies
Texas Register -- Information on rulemaking by state agencies. Includes Governor's appointments, Attorney General opinions and documents such as RFPs.
The website of the Texas Legislature can take you to both the House and the Senate. If the legislature is in session, you can trace a House or Senate bill from its introduction. For information, start with the Texas Legislature Online.
The Legislative Process
During a legislative session, members may introduce new legislation until the filing deadlines identified on the Legislative Dates Calendar. When the legislature is in session, the Texas Legislature Online home page will include the time that the House and Senate are scheduled to convene each day. Methods to view introduced legislation include:
Legislative Reports -- View a list of bills that have been filed in the House or Senate.
Bill Status -- View the current status and legislative history for a bill.
Text Search -- Find bills with specific content.
You can create a personal Bill List and receive e-mail notification as the status changes on bills you chose to watch.
Bills that have been referred to committee may be viewed using:
When a bill is scheduled to be heard by a House or Senate committee, public notice is made to allow public participation in the committee process. View House Meeting Notices and Senate Meeting Notices to see which bills are scheduled to be considered at a particular committee meeting.
After a bill has been reported favorably by a committee and the committee report has been printed, the bill is available for placement on a calendar. A calendar is a list of bills and resolutions that are scheduled to be considered by the full House or Senate. Use this website to view House Calendars and Senate Calendars.
View the Amendments website to search for amendments based on chamber, author, bill, reading or date.
If a bill passes both the House and Senate, it may be signed or vetoed by the Governor or passed without signature. View the Legislative Reports to see a list of all bills passed or vetoed.
Once legislation becomes law, it becomes codified as a statute. Statutes may be viewed and searched at the Texas Statutes website.
Gammel's The Laws of Texas -- Early Texas laws digitized and made available from UNT Libraries
Legislative History and Intent Research -- Guide to the history and intent of Texas legislation
In a representative system is it important for citizens to know who is making decision on their behalf. Yet a majority of citizens do not know the names of their representatives. This is your opportunity to enter the elect minority of US citizens who do know. Locate the name of your representatives at the state level at Vote Smart. They have a wealth of facts on your political leaders, including biographies and addresses, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and evaluations by special interests.
Public Opinion Sites
The media play a major role in Texas politics.
In addition to the two major parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, Texas has a myriad of smaller political parties. I've listed the big three below. Almost any party you're looking for will have a web page, though.
-- A complete list of candidates as well as all voting rules and regulations … and probably a list of polling places
Texas has numerous local and state courts. The Texas Judiciary Online site allows people to research Texas judicial opinions and actions.
Court Structure in Texas -- Ever confused by the number of Texas courts and their jurisdictions? This site explains how the court system in Texas is organized.
Supreme Court -- The court of last resort for civil matters in the State of Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals -- Texas' highest court for criminal cases
Courts of Appeals -- Find out about the fourteen court of appeals in Texas, sign up to receive updates on cases that interest you and conduct research on cases and opinions.
Texas Office of Court Administration -- The OCA provides administrative and technical support to all Texas courts. It operates under the direction of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas.
State Office of Administrative Hearings -- The SOAH conducts hearings and alternative dispute resolution proceedings.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice State Counsel for Offenders -- The SCO provides attorneys independent of the confinement divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to help offenders with legal problems.
Texas Judicial Directory -- Search by court type or name or by last name. Also link to the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Courts of Appeals or district-level Courts.
District Courts are the trial courts of Texas.
Texas Department of Corrections and Justice -- Visit it to get an idea of what one of the largest prison systems in the world is like.
Texas Board of Pardons and Parole -- The primary role of the Texas BPP is the discretionary release of eligible inmates sentenced to the Institutional Division to a plan of parole supervision.
Visit the Window on State Government for information on the state’s economy. This site has the Comptroller's Research Reports, Fiscal Notes, Economic Reports, Education Reports, Performance Reviews and Economic Updates.
Read the Comptroller’s description on How to Appeal Your Property Taxes.
No look at state government would be complete without looking at local governments in Texas. If your town -- or one of interest to you -- has a web site, you can access it through the Cities web page. You can get information on your county at the web site for the Texas Association of Counties.
As you would expect in a state the size of Texas, almost every interest group in the country has a Texas branch. Here are a few that may be of interest to you. If you don't see the one you want, try going to its national page and looking for state links.