A legislature composed of individuals who represent the population.
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept of natural rights was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government, and was widely accepted among America's founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson echoed Locke's language in drafting the Declaration of Independence.
a voluntary agreement among individuals to secure their rights and welfare by creating a government and abiding by its rules
A legislature with only one legislative chamber, as opposed to a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature, such as the U.S. Congress. Today, Nebraska is the only state in the Union with a unicameral legislature.
A political system in which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers they expressly delegate to a central government. A voluntary association of independent states, in which the member states agree to limited restraints on their freedom of action.
a group of people occupying a specific area and organized under one government; may be either a nation or a subunit of a nation
A legislature made up of two parts, called chambers. The U.S. Congress, composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is a bicameral legislature.
A doctrine that asserts the priority of national law over state laws. This principle is rooted in Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that the Constitution, the laws passed by the national government under its constitutional powers, and all treaties constitute the supreme law of the land.
the compromise between the New Jersey and Virginia plans that created one chamber of the Congress based on population and one chamber representing each state equally; also called the Connecticut Compromise.
separation of powers
the principle of dividing governmental powers among different branches of government
a structure of government proposed by James Madison in which the powers of the government are separated into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial
checks and balances
a major principle of the American system of government whereby each branch of the government can check the actions of the others
a group of persons called electors selected by the voters in each state and the District of Columbia (D.C.); this group officially elects the president and vice president of the United States. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of each state's representatives in both chambers of congress. The twenty-third Amendment to the constitution grants D.C. as many electors as the states with the smallest population.
A system of government in which power is divided between a central government and regional, or subdivisional, governments. Each level must have some domain in which its policies are dominant and some genuine political or constitutional guarantee of its authority.
the name given to one who was in favor of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the creation of a federal union with a strong central government.
An individual who opposed the ratification of the new Constitution in 1787. The Anti-Federalists were opposed to a strong central government.
an international agreement between chiefs of state that does not require legislative approval
the power of the Supreme Court and other courts to declare unconstitutional federal or state laws and other acts of government
A rule or regulation issued by the president that has the effect of law. Executive orders can implement and give administrative effect to provisions in the Constitution, to treaties, and to statutes.
a centralized governmental system in which ultimate governmental authority rests in the hands of the national, or central, government
A system consisting of a league of independent states, each having essentially sovereign powers. The central government created by such a league has only limited powers over the states.
A power specifically granted to the national government by the Constitution. The first seventeen clauses of Article I, Section 8, specify most of the enumerated powers of the national government.
powers held jointly by the national and state governments
The constitutional provision that makes the Constitution and federal laws superior to all conflicting state and local laws.
elastic clause, or necessary and proper clause
The clause in Article I, Section 8, that grants congress the power to do whatever is necessary to execute its specifically delegated powers.
The authority to legislate for the protection of the health, morals, safety, and welfare of the people. In the United States, most police power is reserved to the states.
An agreement between two or more states. Agreements on minor matters are made without congressional consent, but any compact that tends to increase the power of the contracting states relative to other states or relative to the national government generally requires the consent of Congress. Such compacts serve as a means by which states can solve regional problems.
The section of the Constitution in which Congress is given the power to regulate trade among the states and with foreign countries.
A model of federalism in which the states and the national government each remain supreme within their own spheres. The doctrine looks on nation and state as co-equal sovereign powers. Neither the state government nor the national government should interfere in the other's sphere.
A model of federalism in which the states and the national government cooperate in solving problems.
A model of federalism in which specific programs and policies (depicted as vertical pickets in a picket fence) involve all levels of government - national, state, and local (depicted by the horizontal boards in a picket fence).
Federal grants to states or local governments that are for specific programs or projects.
Federal programs that provide funds to state and local governments for general functional areas, such as criminal justice or mental-health programs.
A requirement in federal legislation that forces states and municipalities to comply with certain rules.
The transfer of powers from a national or central government to a state or local government.
The legal process by which a lender takes possession of a mortgaged property when the borrower defaults on the loan.
Any property that a married couple has acquired during their marriage. In certain states, it is divided equally between them in the event of a divorce.
The bureau of refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned lands, federal bureau established in 1865 to aid refugees of the civil war (including former slaves) and to administer confiscated property. Among other task, it sought to provide education to the former slaves. it was disbanded in 1872.
Legislation that confers on appropriate officials the power to implement or enforce the law.
An oath of loyalty to the nation required of former confederates in order to participate in politics.
A legislative session scheduled by the constitution. Texas regular sessions are biennial (once every two years) rather than annual as in most states and in Congress.
Any legislative session that is not specifically scheduled by the constitution or by statute. In some states, the legislature call itself in special session, but in texas only the governor may call the legislature into special session.
house and senate journals
The official public records of the actions of the two chambers of the Texas legislature. The two journals are issued daily during sessions.
Detailed state constitutional provisions characterized by the narrow scope usually found in statutory law.
In the context of state government, constitutional provisions made inoperative by changing circumstances or by conflicting federal constitutional or statutory law.
an executive branch with power divided among several independent officers and a weak chief executive
An election between candidates who are nominated by their parties and whose party affiliation in designated on the ballot. In Texas, all state and country officials (including Judges) are selected in this manner. Only municipal and some special district elections are nonpartisan in Texas.
The right of local government to write a charter establishing any organizational structure or program that does not conflict with state law. The Texas constitution reserves home rule for municipalities with populations of 5,000 or more.
City structure established by statute. Most smaller Texas cities choose among several available options allowed by the state legislature.
A local government that provides services to a jurisdiction that are not provided by general-purpose government. Examples of special districts include municipal utility districts, hospital authorities, and transit authorities
laws passed by a legislatures and eventually compiled in law codes.