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Texas Politics - The Executive Branch
 
 
  Key Words and Phrases

attorney general
The state's elected chief lawyer defending the state and advising other state officials.
balanced budget requirement
Constitutional requirement in Texas that state spending in each fiscal year not exceed state revenues or income.
bully pulpit
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's description of the presidency as a position from which to command attention and attempt persuasion.
capital punishment
The criminal penalty of execution imposed in murder cases involving legally specified aggravated circumstances.
commissioner of agriculture
Elected official who implements and enforces the state's agricultural laws.
commutation
Changing a prison sentence or other punishment to another, less severe penalty.
comptroller of public accounts
The state's elected chief tax collector, accountant, estimator of revenues, and treasurer.
ex-officio member
Board or commission members who automatically serve because of some other position they occupy.
General Land Office
Administers all state-owned lands and collects the revenues they generate.
impeachment
A component of the legal method of removing high government officials prior to the next election. Impeachment is the accusation or indictment the Texas House of Representatives lodges against an official. This is followed by a trial in the state Senate.
interim appointment
The governor's power to fill vacancies in appointive offices when the legislature is not in session, subject to Senate confirmation when the legislature next convenes.
lieutenant governor
First in line to succeed the governor, the office's chief power is its authority and influence in the state Senate.
line-item veto
The Governor's constitutional power to veto specific items in the legislature's budget bill rather than the whole bill.
message power
A power of the governor derived from the constitutionally mandated communications the governor must make to the legislature, as well as from the inherent potential of the govenor to grab the attention of the public.
pardon
Legal release from the penalty or punishment of a violation of the law.
patronage
The practice of awarding government jobs or other benefits as a reward for political support.
plural executive
Characterizes a form of state government in which many or most top executive branch office holders win office through popular election, creating office holders with significant independence from the governor.
pocket veto
Unavailable to Texas governors, this is the power presidents have to kill congressional legislation without signing or vetoing it when Congress is not in session.
power to persuade
The capacity of an office holder to promote his or her political agenda by virtue of the attention automatically paid the occupant of the office. Most frequently associated with the U.S. presidency and, to a lesser extent, state governors. See also bully pulpit.
reprieve
Delay of an impending punishment, especially execution.
secretary of state
The only constitutional executive branch official appointed by the governor. This office administers elections and maintains important state records.
senatorial courtesy
An unwritten custom of the Texas Senate that Senators may reject nominees from their district whom the governor wishes to appoint.
special session
A session of the legislature called by the Governor to address issues of the his or her choosing. Special sessions are separate from the regular legislative sessions and may last a maximum of thirty days.
staggered terms
The scheduling of terms of office so that all members of a body are not selected at the same time. Staggered terms tend to have the effect of creating relative stability in government bodies.
State Board of Education
Elected 15-member body charged with overseeing the state's system of public primary and secondary education.
Texas Railroad Commission
Publicly elected three-member body that regulates railroads, trucking, mining, and oil and gas production within the state.
veto
The Governor's constitutional power to reject legislation, concurrent resolutions, and appropriation items passed by the legislature.
veto override
The legislature passes a bill into law over the governor's veto by a two-thirds vote of each chamber.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 115