The chief executive (the Governor) must approve or reject all proposed legislation. The state Constitution gives the Governor ten days after receiving a bill (not counting Sundays) to take action. If the Legislature has adjourned this period is extended to twenty days.
The Governor can take one of three actions:
- sign the bill into law
- take no action, which allows the bill to become law after the period for gubernatorial consideration expires (ten or twenty days)
- veto the bill by sending a formal message of rejection to the Legislature
When the Governor vetoes legislation, the Legislature may override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each house. However, because the legislative session is so short, many vetoes occur after the Legislature has adjourned, thereby denying any opportunity to override the Governor's decision. A bill cannot be taken up in a subsequent legislative session unless it goes through the entire legislative process all over again.
Recently, the issue of post-session vetoes by the Governor has come to the public's attention because of concerns about the influence of special interests. Within days after the 77th legislative session ended in 2001, Governor Rick Perry accepted over $1.2 million in campaign contributions, including $175,000 on the first full day after the session adjourned. Most of this first day's haul came from members of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. As it turned out, Mr. Perry vetoed eighty-two bills: a record number. These included four bills that the lawsuit reform group opposed.
One might expect high numbers of vetoes, given the increasing number of bills passed by an ever efficient legislature over the past decade. Still, the eighty-two bills vetoed in 2001 seemed unusually high and generated some criticism.  Subsequent ethics legislation passed in the 78th legislature prohibited campaign contributions later than the thirtieth day before the legislative session convenes or before the twentieth day after the legislative session ends.