TX GOVT 2306 (Ch. 7-9)

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Term limits
Legally mandated restrictions on the number of times that a politician can be reelected to an office or the number of years that a person may hold a particular office
Constituency
Those residents of the state who are directly affected by the law making choices of a particular elected official; usually residents and businesses in the home district of the elected official
Bureaucratic oversight
The legislative function of reviewing state bureaucratic agencies and closing them down (called "sunsetting") if they are no longer viable for the state
Special session
A 30 day session of the Legislature that can only be called by the governor, which takes place after regular session to complete work or to consider the agenda set by the governor
Resolution
The formal recognition by the state legislature to provide support or non-support of events, people or law changes, or a way for the legislative body to make an agreement to support or not support upcoming changes and federal law or laws adopted by other states
Per diem
The amount paid each day that a legislator is working, both in regular and special sessions, and when committees meet during the interim between sessions
Retainer fees
Fees charged by lawyer legislators for services to clients, including those who have business with the state agencies or may have lawsuits against state agencies
Consulting fees
Fees charged by legislators who may contract with business clients to consult on matters pending in the legislature, thereby helping clients to benefit from legislation currently active in the legislature
Descriptive representation
The idea that elected bodies should accurately represent not only constituents' political views but also the ethnic and social characteristics that affect their political perspectives
Single-member district
Districts that are represented by one representative that should be equal in population
Malapportionment
The process of the unequal distribution of population during the districting process that would make one district substantially larger or smaller than another
Reapportionment
The redistricting or redrawing district lines after every census to reflect the population changes over the previous decade
Ex officio board members
Persons who hold a position automatically because they also hold some other office
Gerrymandering
The practice of drawing district lines in such a way as to give candidates from a certain party, ethnic group, or a faction an advantage
Cracking
A gerrymandering technique in which concentrated political party voters in one geographical area are split into several district so that their voting power in any one district is negligible
Packing
A gerrymandering technique in which members of a party are concentrated into one district, thereby ensuring that the group will includes only one election rather than several
Pairing
Placing two incumbent officeholders and parts of their political bases in the same elective district through redistricting
Incumbents
The currently elected official
Little legislatures
Another way of referring to committees— refers to the amount of work and decision-making power of the committees
Standing committees
Permanent committees that function throughout the legislative session. There are two types: substantive and procedural
Mark up
Rewriting or changing a bill by adding or deleting portions of it before it is considered for passage
Pigeonhole
To set a bill aside and not take any action on it throughout the entire legislative session; most bills are pigeonholed
Subcommittees
Subdivisions of standing committees that consider specialized areas and categories of proposed legislation
Joint committee
Committee that includes both senators and house representatives
Ad-hoc committee
A committee designed to address one specific issue in the legislative process. Its function is temporary and is disbanded when the function is complete
Select committee
Temporary committees that are created for one specific purpose and are usually in an advisory capacity
Conference committee
An ad-hoc Committee that meets to resolve differences between Senate and House versions of the same legislation; each piece of legislation has its own conference committee
Interim committee
A committee that meets between legislative sessions
Suspension of the rule
The setting aside of the rule of chronologically ordering bills so that other bills can be considered
Blocking bill
The first bill placed on the Senate calendar in each session, which is usually a bill that will never be considered by the full senate
Floor action
Refers to action by the entire house or the entire senate to debate, amend, and vote on legislation
Quorum
To take official action, both houses require two-thirds of the total membership to be present
Filibuster
A prolonged debate by a Senator to delay passing of a bill
Committee of the whole
The entire 31 member Senate acting as a committee
Floor leaders
The legislators who are responsible for getting legislation passed or defeated
Point of order
A formal objection that rules of procedure are not being followed on the house floor
Chubbing
Includes debating earlier bills for the maximum allotted time, asking the bill's sponsor trivial questions, and proposing so many amendments and raising so many points of order that the house does not get around to the bill to which they ultimately object
Voice vote
To cast an oral vote that is not recorded in the official record
Recorded votes
On final bill passage, votes and the names of those who cast the vote are recorded in each house's journal
Conference committee report
A compromise between the house and senate versions of a bill reached by a conference committee and then delivered to each house
Legislative budget board (LBB)
A 10-member board responsible for creating the state's initial budget and providing planning, analysis, and impact of the budgeting process
Legislative Council
Provides research support, information, and bill-drafting assistance to legislators
Legislative audit committee
Points and supervises the state auditor who, what the consent of the Senate, heads the state auditor's office
Sunset advisory commission
Recommends keeping, abolishing, re-organizing, or giving a new scope and authority to an agency
Impeachment
Bringing formal charges against a public official; the legislative equivalent of indictment for improper conduct in office
Informal (extralegal) powers
Powers that are not stated in rules, law, or a constitution but are usually derived from formal or legal powers
Formal (legal) powers
Powers that are stated in the law of the constitution
Senatorial courtesy
The tradition of allowing a senator to reject the governor's appointment of a political enemy from the senator's district
Clemency powers
The governor's powers to pardon, parole, and grant reprieves to convicted criminals
Message power
The constitutional power to deliver the state-of-the-state message and special messages to the legislature
Veto
A power that allows the governor to stop a bill from becoming law
Bureaucracy
The part of the executive branch that actually administers government policies and programs
The Attorney General's opinion
The Attorney General's interpretation of the Constitution, statutory laws, or administrative rules
Privatization
The hiring of private contractors to perform government services and perform government functions
Spoils system
A system in which elected officials hire campaign workers as public employees
Contract spoils or contract patronage
A practice in which politicians award contracts to their political supporters and contributors in the business community
Civil-service (or merit) system
An employment system using competitive examinations or objective measures of qualifications for hiring in promoting employees
Hierarchies
Structures in which several employees report to a higher administrator who reports to higher authorities until eventually all report to the single individual with ultimate authority over the entire organization
Administrative law
The rules and regulations written by administrators to implement public policy
Elective accountability
Electing executive officers to make the bureaucracy directly accountable to the people through the democratic process
Cabinet system
A system that allows the chief executive to appoint and remove top administrators
Open-meetings laws
Laws requiring that meetings of government bodies at all levels of government be open to the general public with some exceptions
Open-records laws
Laws that require most records kept by government to be open to the public
Whistle-blowers
Government employees who expose bureaucratic excesses, blunders, corruption, or favoritism
Ombudsperson
An official who takes, investigates, and mediates complaints about government bureaucrats or policy
Civil case
Concerns private rights and remedies and usually involves private parties or organizations (Garcia v. Smith), although the government may on occasion be a party to a civil case
Criminal case
Involves a violation of Pinot law as prosecuted by the state
Burden of proof
The duty and degree to which a party in a court case must prove its position
Preponderancy of the evidence
Whichever party has more evidence or proof on its side should win the case, no matter how slight the differential is
Beyond a reasonable doubt
The standard used to determine the guilt or innocence of a person criminally charged. To prove a defendant guilty, the state must provide sufficient evidence of guilt so that jurors have no doubt that might cause a reasonable person to question whether the accused was guilty
Original jurisdiction
The power to try a case being heard for the first time
Appellate jurisdiction
The power vested in an appellate court to review and revise the judicial action of an inferior court
Brief
A written argument prepared by the council arguing a case in court that summarizes the facts of the case, the pertinent laws, and the application of those balls to the facts supporting the counsel's position
De novo
Latin for "anew"; a de novo trial is a new trial conducted in a higher court (as opposed to an appeal). In de novo cases, hi records completely retry cases. On appeal, higher court simply review the law has decided by the lower courts
Plea-bargaining
Negotiations between the prosecution and the defense to obtain a lighter sentence or other benefits in exchange for a guilty plea (commonly to a less serious crime) by the accused.
Grand jury
In Texas, consists of 12 people who sit in pre-trial proceedings to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to try an individual and therefore return an indictment
Information
A written accusation made by the prosecutor against a party charged with a minor crime; it is an alternative to an indictment and does not involve a grand jury
Indictment
A formal written accusation issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime when it has determined that there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused to trial
True bill
An indictment returned by a grand jury
No bill
A grand jury's refusal to return an indictment filed by the prosecutor
Petit jury
A jury for a civil or criminal trial
Challenge for cause
A request to a judge that he certain prospective juror not be allowed to serve on the jury for a specific reason, such as bias or knowledge of the case
Preemptory challenge
A challenge made to a prospective juror without being required to give a reason for removal; the number of such challenges allotted to the prosecution and defense is limited
Hung jury
A jury that is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation; the result is a mistrial
Merrit plan or Missouri plan
A method of selecting judges on the basis of the merit or quality of the candidates and not on political considerations. Under this system, the governor fills court vacancies from a list of nominees submitted by a judicial commission, and these appointees later face retention elections
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