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73 Cards in this Set

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House of Representatives

Has 150 members. Must be: a citizen of the U.S., Qualified voter, 21 years old, resident of states 2 years preceding election, Resident of the district 1 year prior to election. Equity of representation: 140,000 people/rep.

Speaker of the House

The chief presiding officer of the House of Representatives; the Speaker is the most important party and House leader, and can influence the legislative agenda, the fate of individual pieces of legislation, and members' positions within the House. They refer all bills to committees and controls the agenda.

State Senate

Has 31 members. Must be: 26 years old, a US citizen, qualified voter, resident of TX for 5 years prior, and a resident of district for 1 year prior. Equity of Representation: 670,000.

Lt. Governor

A state-wide elected official who is the presiding officer of the Senate (not a member of senate); the Lt. governor is one of the most important officials in state government and has significant control over legislation in the state Senate. They also only vote to break ties.

Biennial Session

This type of session occurs once every 2 years; lasts for a 140 day period and only in odd-numbered years, during which the Texas legislature meets to consider and pass bills.

Special Session

a legislative session called by the governor that addresses an agenda set by them and that lasts no longer than 30 days.

Committee assignments

Speaker appoints: most members of standing committees, members of calendar and procedural committees, members of conference committee, members of special & interim committees, and also appoints Lt. Governor.

Lt. Governor appoints: Chairs of committee, selects committee members.

Single-Member Districts

A district in which one official is elected rather than multiple officials.

Safe election districts

Non-competitive districts

Racially gerrymandered majority-minority districts

Where districts are drawn so that minorities are the majority in some districts so that they may elect a minority representative. Basically so the minority have the advantage.

Birthright Characteristics

Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion

Equity of representation

House of Representatives: 140,000 people

Senate: 670,000 people

Minority representation

Where minority have the opportunity to be elected.

Legislative Redistricting Board

Draws legislative districts if legislature fails to act. Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Speaker of the House, State Comptroller, and Land Commissioner.


According to the TX Constitution, the governor's power to turn down legislation; can be overridden by a 2/3's vote of both the House and Senate

Post-Adjournment Veto

A veto of a bill that occurs after the legislature adjourns, thus preventing the legislature from overriding it.

Line-Item veto

The power of the executive to veto specific provisions (lines) of an appropriations bill passed by the legislature.

Electoral Powers

The legislature's mandated role in counting returns in the elections for governor and Lt. governor.

Conference committee

A joint committee created to work out a compromise on House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation.

Investigative powers

The power, exercised by the House, the Senate, or both chambers jointly, to investigate problems facing the state.

Directive and Supervisory Powers

The legislature's power over the executive branch; for example, the legislature determines the size of appropriations for state agencies.

Judicial Powers

The power of the House to impeach and of the Senate to convict members of the executive and judicial branches of state government.


The formal charge by the House of Representatives that leads to a trial in the Senate and possibly to the removal of a state official.


A tactic used by members of the Senate to prevent action on legislation they oppose by continuously holding the floor and speaking until the majority backs down. Once given the floor, senators have unlimited time to speak as long as they follow Senate rules, and it requires a vote of three-fifths of the Senate to end a filibuster.


The process of redrawing election districts and redistributing legislative representatives in the Texas House, Texas Senate, and US House; this usually happens every 10 years to reflect shifts in population or in response to legal challenges in existing districts.

Chief legislator

(Governor) Mainly from veto power; legislative power: Veto, line-item veto, post-adjournment veto.

Party Chief

Governor is unofficial head of party

Intergovernmental coordinator

Governor works with state and federal officials.

Acting Governor

This is the Lt. Governor if the governor is impeached and convicted, has died, has resigned or if they are out of the state. They succeed the governor.

Tenure of Office

4-year term, but they have unlimited reelection abilities, aka no term limit.

Appointive powers

The power of the chief executive to appoint persons to office.

Plural executive structure

A structure in which power is fragmented because the election of statewide officeholders is independent of the election of the governor. (Lt. Gov., Attn. Gen., Comptroller, Land Comm., Agri. Comm., Texas RR Comm. Secretary of State)

Budgetary powers

The governor submits an executive budget to the legislature. This budget suggests a plan for revenue and expenditure for TX, but more importantly, it indicates the governor's priorities for the state in the next 2 years.

Legislative budget Board

Responsible for preparing a legislative budget, the state budget that is fully considered by the House and Senate.

Legislative powers

Veto Power and message power.

Judicial Powers

Appointment of elective offices when they have died or resigned or otherwise removed.

Military Powers

Commander-in-Chief of the state's National Guard, except when called into service of United States.

Lt Governor

The second-highest elected official in the state and president of the state senate.

Attorney General

Elected state official who serves as the state's chief civil lawyer.

Comptroller of public accounts

Elected state official who directs the collection of taxes and other revenues and estimates revenues for the budgeting process.

Land Commissioner

Elected state official who is the manager of most publicly owned lands. Also leases state lands for oil and gas production.

Agricultural commission

elected state official who is primarily responsible for enforcing agricultural laws.

Texas RR Commission

Originally was created to regulate railroad monopolies, however, now expanded to regulate and promote oil and gas exploration/production and also the regulation of the trucking industry.

Secretary of state

A state official, appointed by the governor, whose primary responsibility is administering elections.

Legislative Audit Committee

Composed of the Lt. Governor, Speaker, Chairmen of Senate Finance

Multimember boards

Governing boards appointed by more than 1 official; examples: Texas Ethics commission oversees campaign commissions and lobbying. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.


The authority of a court to try to hear a case

Original Jurisdiction

Authority to hear a case for the first time and resolve case (Guilty/innocent; liability)

Appellate jurisdiction

Review interpretation and application of law

Trial Courts

Jurisdiction (original) is localized; county or city/municipality; presided over by one judge and each court separate; citizens participate; primarily to establish facts.

Justice of Peace

Local (county) trial courts whose jurisdiction is limited to probate and guardianship matters.

Municipal Courts

Local trial courts with limited jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances and very minor criminal misdemeanors .

Magistrate functions

Arrangements; preliminary hearings if charged with serious crimes.

Trial de novo courts

New cases (?)

County Courts

The courts that exist in some counties that are presided over by county judges. Appellate jurisdiction from de novo courts

Courts of appeals

the 14 intermediate-level appellate courts that hear appeals from district and county courts to determine whether the decisions of these lower courts followed legal principles and court procedures.

Judicial selection


Removal process

Impeachment through legislature; State Supreme Ct. Judges may remove any judge from office; District judges may remove county judges or JoPs; State Commission on Judicial Ct. may recommend to Supreme Ct. or Mayor (Municipal cts.) the removal of any judge/justice; Mayor may remove municipal Ct. judge.

Civil law

Established through constitutions, legislative process, administrative law, or judicial decisions; private rights and obligations (established by volunteer contracts, statutes, constitutions, or common law); disputes between individuals, individuals and corporations, corporations, or individuals/corporations and government.

Criminal law

Federal and state statutes. The branch of law that regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes and specifies punishment for criminal acts.

Courts of Last Resort

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court

Texas Supreme Court

Final Appellate court for civil cases; consists of 9 court justices.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Final appellate court for criminal cases; death penalty cases bypass district appellate courts, some may be appealed by supreme court.

Grand Jury

A US constitutionally mandated screening process: selects 12 citizens, they have a 6 month service; major crimes/felons; indictment (defendant not rep by attorney, but right can be waived). This jury determines whether sufficient evidence is available to justify a trial; grand juries do not rule on guilt/innocence.


A written statement issued by a grand jury that charges a suspect with a crime and states that a trial is warranted.

Petit Jury

Randomly selected, pooled from those with drivers licence or voter registration currently.

Information/Administrative Hearing

Instead of Grand Jury, presided over by judge (defendants attorney present; can protect rights), Major crimes in county courts (DUI/DWI, minor theft, drug, simple assault, traffic cases)

Common law

Judicial interpretations; traditions and customs; precedent cases, state decisions, let decision stand; inherited and built on system from England.



Code Law

legislative law and statutes, created by state and federal legislation (Regulate behavior of citizens and organizations; Regulates core principles of government system).

Constitutional Law

Laws set forth in the Constitution, separation of power, Bill of Rights, enumerated powers; courts interpretation of the Constitution (Regulates behavior of government and interactions between government and citizens).

Judicial Activism

Strike down laws made by elected officials, step away from precedent, making policy (changing power of other branches).

Judicial Restraint

Defer to elected branches; should not check power of other branches, only if clear violation of constitution.