This chapter begins by reviewing the constitutional history of Texas, from the days when it was part of Mexico to the present. Central to this discussion are the twin dynamics - the yin and yang - of fundamental constitutional revision and the accumulation of piecemeal changes. Attempts at constitutional revision usually occur during extraordinary times, when the nature of the existing political system is thrown into doubt. Despite the tumult that inspires their work during such times, constitutional designers never completely rewrite the constitution with which they start. Fundamental and piecemeal changes as well as carry-over from previous constitutions are clearly evident in the seven constitutions under which Texas has been governed.
Next, we review the structure and content of the current Texas constitution. Of special concern here is the length, detail and overall organization (or disorganization, as some critics might have it) of the fundamental plan of state government and cornerstone of state law. We then turn attention to what the constitution says about local governments (counties and municipalities). The framers of the constitution had a lot to say about these local governments, and the way they specified their organization and function directly affects the communities we call home.
The chapter wraps up with detailed coverage of the ambitious revision effort in the 1970s and more recent attempts at constitutional change. In general these revision efforts have failed, but they did lead to some important, if incremental, reforms. Learning why and how they failed provides a better understanding of the prospects for future constitutional revision.