Riverside, California 2021-10-22 15:08:15 –
Austin — There was a time when the Constitution of Texas deliberately undermined the position of governor, for a long time.
In fact, the Constitution came into force for almost a century, before the governor’s term was extended from just two to four years. And when the term is extended in the 1974 election, it will take 24 years for Texas voters to give the governor of either party a four-year term for the second consecutive year.
Everything changed and was actually morphed. However, the concept of a weak governor dates back to the 1876 State Constitution adopted as Texas, and the rest of the country emerged from reconstruction. Framer at the time wanted everything related to the state government to be weak. As a result, the Legislature meets every other year for a regular session of only 20 weeks.
The governor was not given a cabinet to run the government’s miscellaneous bureaucracy like the president. Instead, most state agencies are overseen by multi-member boards and committees. The governor can appoint those commissioners, but most of them get a six-year term staggered so that only one-third of the board is replaced every two years.
The net effect of it is that a brand new governor sits on top of a government run by many who owe nothing to him or her.
Fast forward to 1998 when voters finally trusted the governor for a four-year term for the second consecutive year. Interesting fact: Its governor, George W. Bush, only served for the second two years because he accepted a better job with a larger home in Washington, DC.
Bush was a Republican in the state that was run by the Democratic Party at the time, but he was able to add power to his office. First of all, he was very popular. And second, the man who was actually the most powerful man in the Capitol, then-Lieutenant. Governor Bob Brock correctly evaluated Bush as a presidential candidate, which was soon widely shared by almost all Texas politics.
Rick Perry was built on the power of Bush. And as voters put Perry in office for 14 years, all board members and commissioners of the state government owed him or her appointments to him. Perry is also the first Republican in modern Texas, where his party took full control of the state government.
It brings us to Greg Abbott, another Republican whose party controls the state government. Abbott finished his sixth term in January. So it was he who gave the job to all the top bureaucrats in the state.
Nonetheless, the COVID pandemic gave Abbott the greatest opportunity to expand his power in a way that past governors might have dreamed of. He forced private companies to close or shrink their businesses. And he decided when he could resume the operation. He ordered a mask man date. Then he withdrew it. Then he barred someone else from ordering mask orders.
He refused to fund the government’s legislature. And the only way to revoke the veto was if Democrats returned from voluntary asylum during unlucky efforts to thwart the election bill. Interestingly, Republican legislative leaders must have lost money in their offices as well, peeping against the unprecedented governor’s muscle flexion.
And on Thursday, Abbott removed one of the only remaining rounds in the Democratic arsenal. Since May, Texas has had no Secretary of State. It is one of the few state offices whose leader serves with the joy of the governor. However, the Constitution states that the secretary who oversees Texas elections is subject to approval by two-thirds of the Senate.
Fort Worth’s lawyer, John Scott, who Abbott chose to be Secretary of State, probably couldn’t get the support of two-thirds. That’s because he was one of the lawyers who helped former President Donald Trump falsely claim in court that his defeat in polls was suspicious.
Democrats in the Texas government do not have much control. But they hold just over one-third of the Senate seats. However, Abbott postponed his appointment until the end of the special legislative session he called. This means Scott can continue to work until January 2023.
Abbott blocked the Democratic power to do anything about it and maintained it for himself.
John C. Moritz is responsible for Texas Government and Politics at the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo..
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