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Texas Politics - The Constitution
 
 
 
Local government in the Texas Constitution Local government in the Texas Constitution
Counties in the Texas Constitution Counties in the Texas Constitution
5.    The Constitution and Local Government

In addition to various pieces in the Constitution that touch on local government, there are two articles exclusively dedicated to the subject.

One of these, Article IX, is dedicated to the creation of new counties and the minimal specifications of existing counties. The other, Article XI, though ostensibly dedicated to "municipal corporations," addresses a number of issues related to taxation in both municipal and county government.

The following subsections discuss the creation of new counties and the relationship between county and municipal authorities. For a more detailed account of the roles assigned counties in the Texas Constitution, see this chapter's feature Focus on Counties.

5.1    Existing and New Counties

Article IX is quite narrowly focused on the formation of counties, an important matter for a frontier state like Texas in the nineteenth century. After granting the Legislature the power to create counties "for the convenience of the people," this article lists a series of restrictions. New counties created outside the counties that already existed had to be no smaller than 900 square miles and "shaped in a square form." The framers understood that this may not be possible in border areas, and allowed that, in such cases, the area could be less.

The framers also recognized that geographically large counties may seek to split into smaller counties. New counties created from existing counties could be no smaller than 700 square miles. However, they also must not be "nearer than twelve miles of the county seat" of any county from which the new county's territory is taken.

This article provides additional details on the location and removal of county seats - the main concern being that the county seat should be roughly in the geographic center of the county (within five miles of it).

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