Title 1: Compare and Contrast the US Constitution and Texas Constitution
A constitution is the fundamental element of a nation’s government or state, that contains a body of principles in form of laws, customs or institutions according to which a state/ country is governed. The US constitution was written in 1797 and fully effected in 1789. It consists of 27 amendments and is one of the oldest written national constitutions to be used to date. It establishes powers of the federal government and leaves the rest of unassigned powers to the states. The constitution of Texas State was completed in February 15, 1876 and has remained in use up to date, placing it among the oldest constitutions in the United States. Texas State has had 6 constitutions and the one in use today is in fact the second longest constitution in the US (approximately 76,000 words). There are several similarities between the two constitutions in terms of power, principles of democratic representation, protection of individual rights etc. On the other hand, some differences exist between these constitutions. These include; the amendment process, original purpose and inclusion of Bill of Rights.
The first similarity between the US and Texas Constitutions is based on the historical background of their formation. Both constitutions were drafted in order to mitigate several issues that existed at the time. However, there were different conditions for adoption for each constitution. The US Constitution was adopted to replace the Articles of Confederation which was seen to have several weaknesses that did not support government functions. The constitution of Texas State was drafted to stop the ‘darkest history’ of all times in the United States in 1874. It was meant to stop oppressive laws on the US citizens that existed at the time and to establish a framework for reconstruction. (Williams " Hall, 2017).
Secondly, the two constitutions take into account the principles of a democratic government, in which people are the source of power. Sovereignty lies within the citizens who choose their representatives to take up positions in the government. House representatives and senators are fairly elected by voters through a ballot system. Both constitutions also embrace a certain degree of federalism that advocate for a two level government. In the US, the states are subordinate to the federal government while the counties are subordinate to the Texas government. The higher levels of the governments delegate some power to the lower levels, thus enhancing decentralization of power and autonomy. However, these constitutions differ with regards to centralization and decentralization of power. The US constitution was drafted to counter weaknesses of the Article of Confederation which limited the powers of the government due to decentralization (Greenawalt, 2015). It was meant to increase the powers of the government. However, the constitution of Texas State was drafted to reduce the powers of the government being that the people of Texas had faced oppression from the government before.
Both constitutions are similar because they support three main branches of the government; legislature, executive and judiciary. However, the framework of their operations and the functions of each branch are different. For instance, the US constitution creates a unitary body of the executive that bestows its power on the president. The powers of the executive are centralized on one office. On the other hand, the Texas constitution embraces a plural executive style where power is shared amongst members of the executive (Williams " Hall). The main objective of this constitution is to fragment powers and avoid vesting them on an individual or an office.
The legislative branches of both constitutions also differ on several grounds including provisions on issues regarding tax. The Texas constitution poses detailed restrictions on taxation and spending policies on what the legislators can write into law. For example, legislators are forbidden to allow the state government get into debt or to implement policies that impose taxes on personal income (Greenawalt, 2015). On the other hand, the US constitution do not have many restrictions on taxation and spending policies. Senators and representatives are not dictated on what to write into law. There are also differences between the judiciary of both constitutions. The US constitution has established a simple system that consists of three levels of court whilst the constitution of Texas have six types of courts in place.
On the basis of amendments, both constitutions are similar because they have had a number of amendments since their formation. However, a difference emerges in the number of amendments that each has undergone. The US constitution has been amended 27 times whereas the Texas constitution has been amended close to 500 times. It is extremely difficult to amend the US constitution because of its complex structure. Similarly, both constitutions contain a Bill of Rights. However, Bill of Rights are added to the US constitution in form of amendments. On the other hand, Bill of Rights in the Texas constitution are listed on the first page. Some changes in the US constitution such as difficulty in its amendment also affects the constitution of Texas. It prevents changes proposed by some individuals to outlaw separation of power.
In conclusion, the US and Texas State Constitutions are similar in many ways in terms of democracy, individual rights and levels of government. However, some differences exist between the two constitutions. They include their history formation, amendments and provisions of legislature, executive and judiciary. Concepts of federalism and limited powers also exist between the two constitutions. In addition, some changes in the US constitution has an effect on Texas constitution. These include making the constitution difficult to amend so as to prevent ill-conceived amendments.
Keita, Greenawalt. Federal Separation of Powers.
New York: Praeger Publishers, 2015.
Williams, Meddy " Hall, Julius. “Knowledge of the law in Texas.” Socioeconomic and ethnic differences, Law and Society Review (2011): pg. 99.
Title 2: Texas Department of Agriculture
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is a state agency set up by the 30th Texas Legislature in the year 1907 to deal with issues pertaining to agriculture, affairs of the rural community and other related issues within the state of Texas. It is headed by an executive commissioner who is elected through a statewide ballot as mandated by the constitution of Texas State. The current Agriculture Commissioner is Honorable Sid Miller who was elected into office in November 4, 2014 and sworn in in January 7, 2015. Commissioners’ elections are done every 4 years (concurrent with gubernatorial elections) with the next elections set for November 6, 2018. The department has its headquarters on the 11th floor of Texas Department of Agriculture 1700 North Congress Austin, TX. The department has about 650 employees who are distributed in various offices and report directly to the Commissioner.
Description of the Agency
The Department of Agriculture is divided into the following divisions; Food and Nutrition, Offices- includes all offices that deal with issues such as communications, internal audit, and policy and legislative affairs. Business Operations- this division deals with the resource, legal and financial aspects of the departments. These are legal services, administrative services and financial services. Trade and Business Development division focuses on issues pertaining to grants, rural economic development, marketing and trade. Agriculture and Consumer Protection handles all issues of consumer protection, agriculture protection and certification, and regional affairs. In addition, TDA has various regional offices throughout the counties in the state. All regional offices are uniquely equipped to serve different needs of clients. These offices are; Gulf Coast, North Texas, South Central, West Texas and Valley Regional Offices.
What area of public policy does it oversee?
The Texas Department of Agriculture is a state agency set up to implement major public policies including regulatory policies, distributive and redistributive policies. TDA has various divisions which are responsible for overseeing these policies. These areas include Agriculture and Consumer Protection Division which handles items like grocery store scales, eggs, gas pumps, etc. It works to ensure that accurate weights and measures are used and also protects agricultural crops from pests by carrying out extensive research on new pesticides. Food Safety Modernization Act is a division that works to prevent food contamination and ensure product safety. It provides the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the required tools to implement laws that ensure higher rates of compliance to safety standards. The department also enforces public policies through Handling and Marketing of Perishable Commodities (HMPC). This division protects producers and dealers who do not receive payments from sale of their commodities.
Accountability to the legislature and the public
Being a state agency, TDA is tasked with accountability to several parties including the legislature and the general public. The role of the legislature is to set laws and regulations to ensure safety and reliability of government operations. Policies that affect the agricultural sector are implemented by the Department of Agriculture. It is also accountable public safety through healthy living program. For instance, the department of Food Safety and Inspection Service recently recalled ground beef products by Cargi Meat Solutions due to possible E. Coli contamination. The mission of this program is to provide food for the hungry and promote healthy lifestyles. In addition, it provides training and education to the public on healthy living standards.
Role of TDA within the Government
The various departments of TDA collectively play an important role in supporting the government to promote the general welfare of its citizens. It improves and maintains health and nutritional standards of children and adults through the Food and Nutrition Division. It also provides food distribution during emergencies. The department also provides equal employment opportunities to qualified citizens. It works in accordance with federal civil rights and US Department of Agriculture laws to ensure that these opportunities are availed to everyone without discrimination on grounds of color, race, sex, age, disability, etc. It also provides grants and agricultural financing to aspiring farmers.
TDA also generates revenues to the government through taxation on agricultural products and licensing of businesses. The department regulates food and produce safety by carrying out inspection services on agricultural products. The department provides convenience testing for licensing examination tools used in the process. In addition, it works with institutions like FDA and Plant Health Inspectorate to ensure that harmful products’ entry into the country are barred at the border. It promotes local products, culture and communities through programs such as GO TEXAN and Texas Shrimp. These programs handle state affairs like providing markets for local farmers and providing certified retirement benefits for retirees.
In conclusion, the Texas Department of Agriculture is an important agency. It is headed by an executive commissioner who is elected every 4 years. It serves the public as well as support the legislature in implementing policies. It supports policies such as distributive, redistributive and regulatory policies through its operations. The department consists of several divisions, each assigned with a specific responsibility and they all collectively work to promote general welfare of citizens of Texas. It supports both national and local government through ways such as generating revenues and ensuring good safety.