43 The Role Played by Texas’ Governor


Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you’ll be able to

  • Understand the roles played by Texas’ Governor
  • Discuss the veto power of Texas’ Governor
  • Clemency power
  • Appointment power
  • Budgetary power

The Roles Played by Texas’ Governor

The governor makes policy recommendations that lawmakers in both the state House and Senate chambers may sponsor and introduce as bills. The governor also appoints the Secretary of State, as well as members of boards and commissions who oversee the heads of state agencies and departments.

The constitutional and statutory duties of the Governor include:

  • Signing or vetoing bills passed by the Legislature.
  • Serving as commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces.
  • Convening special sessions of the Legislature for specific purposes.
  • Delivering a report on the condition of the state to the Legislature at the beginning of each regular session.
  • Estimating of the amounts of money required to be raised by taxation.
  • Accounting for all public monies received and paid out by him and recommending a budget for the next two years.
  • Granting reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and revoking conditional pardons.
  • Declaring special elections to fill vacancies in certain elected offices.
  • Appointing qualified Texans to state offices that carry out the laws and direct the policies of state government. Some of these offices are filled by appointment only. Others are ordinarily elected by the people, but the governor must occasionally appoint individuals to fill vacancies. The governor also appoints Texans to a wide range of advisory bodies and task forces that assist him with specific issues.

Veto Power

The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature.

The Governor has line-item veto power, enabling the governor to veto individual components (or lines) of a bill.

The Governor of Texas’ ine-item veto power applies only to spending measures, only to a bill that “contains several items of appropriation.” When a bill contains several items of appropriation, the Governor “may object to one or more of such items, and approve the other portion of the bill.” Ibid. Thus, the Governor may line-item veto one or more “items of appropriation” without vetoing the entire appropriations bill.

Time to consider

The governor must sign or veto legislation within 10 days of transmittal (excluding Sunday), or it becomes law without his/her signature. There is no “pocket veto” for the Governor of Texas.

For legislation transmitted with less than 10 days left in the session, the governor has 20 days after adjournment to act, or the legislation becomes law without being signed.

This latter provision allows a Governor to veto legislation after the Legislature has adjourned, with no opportunity for the Legislature to override a veto.

In practice, a Governor’s vetoes are rarely challenged.

Legislative override

Two-thirds of members present in both chambers must vote to override a veto. If all members are in attendance, this is 100 of the 150 members in the Texas House of Representatives and 21 of the 31 members in the Texas State Senate. Texas is one of 36 states that requires a two-thirds vote from both of its legislative chambers to override a veto.

Clemency Power

The governor has the authority to grant clemency upon the written recommendation of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board). Clemency includes full pardons after conviction or successful completion of a term of deferred adjudication community supervision, conditional pardons, pardons based on innocence, commutations of sentence, and reprieves. In capital cases, clemency includes a commutation of sentence to life in prison and a reprieve for execution. The governor may also grant a one-time reprieve of execution, not to exceed (30) days, without a Board recommendation.

Appointment power

The authority to make governmental appointments is one of the powers given to the Governor of Texas by the state’s Constitution.

During a four-year term, the Governor will make about 3,000 appointments.

Most appointments are:

  1. State officials and members of state boards, commissions and councils that carry out the laws and direct the policies of state government activities;
  2. Members of task forces that advise the Governor or executive agencies on specific issues and policies; or
  3. State elected and judicial offices when vacancies occur by resignation or death of the office holder.

The majority of these appointments are volunteer positions, representative of our citizen government. Most appointees are entitled to standard travel expenses and/or per diem to attend meetings and conduct business of the board or commission.

Budgetary Power

The Governor has relatively limited budgetary powers. The Governor is required to submit a budget, but the Legislature typically ignores the Governor’s budget, preferring to take the lead itself on budgetary matters.

A Governor may attempt to influence the budgetary process through the power of persuasion, but this power is limited.

In the end, a Governor’s primary budget power is the power to veto or threaten to veto legislation.


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