Inside Texas Politics: Power, Policy, and Personality of the Lone Star State

Brandon Rottinghaus
Pub date
Mar 2017
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Inside Texas Politics provides students with an exciting insider's perspective on the world of Texas government. Its focus on how power struggles have shaped Texas institutions and political processes offers students a fresh perspective that differentiates itself from all other texts on the market. Rottinghaus' anecdotes make Inside Texas Politics fun and relevant for today's students, and his visual representations of data foster the skills students need in order to understand and think critically about the political world around them.


1. The Struggle for Texas: Demographics, Culture, and Political Power
The Origins of Texas
--Native Americans
--Spanish Settlers
--African Americans
Continutity and Change in the Texas Economy
--Food and Fiber
--King Cattle (And Other Four-Legged Friends)
--Military and Defense Industries
--High Tech
--Health Care
--Recreation and Retirement
--Assessing the "Texas Miracle"
----Great Texas Political Debates: Raising the Minimum Wage
Continutity and Change in the Texas Demographics
--State Population Growth
----Is is Bigger in Texas? U.S. States with the Largest Population increases, 2000-2010
--Challenges of Population Growth
--Racial and Ethnic Trends in Texas
--Challenges of Shifting Racial and Ethnic Trends
--An Aging State
--Challenges of an Aging Texas
Continuity and Change in Texas Political Culture
----Insider Interview: Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle Writer
--Individualistic Political Culture
----Angles of Power: Individual Rights, Equality, and Religious Freedom
--Traditionalistic Political Culture
--Culture Conflicts
The Insider View

Chapter 2: The Texas Constitution
Constitutional Government
The Roots of Rebellion and the Declaration of Independence
The 1836 Constitution fo the Republic
The 1845 Constitution of the (New) State of Texas
Secession, Reconstruction, and the Constitutions of 1861, 1866, and 1869
--The 1861 Constitution -- "The Confederacy Constitution"
--The 1866 Constitution -- "The Readmission Constitution"
--The 1869 Constitution -- "The Reconstruction Constitution"
The Constitution of 1876 - The Current Constitution
--The Crafting of the 1876 Constitution
--Principles of the Texas Constitution
----Insider Interview: Former Chief Justice Tom Phillips
----Great Texas Political Debates: Confederate Flag License Plates and the Battle over Free Speech
Amending the Constitution
--Constitutional Amendments
--Recent Major Reform Attempts
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Number of Words in State Constitutions
----Angles of Power: Debates About Amending the Constitution
The Insider View

Chapter 3: Federalism
Organizing the Constitutional System
--The Supremacy Clause
--Enumerated and Implied Powers
--Reserved Powers
--Concurrent Powers
--Full Faith and Credit
Advantages of Federalism
--A Stronger Central Government
----Angles of Power: Texas, the Military, and Jade Helm
--Policy Innovation
--Trust in Levels of Government
Texas and Federal Funding
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Federal Aid as a Percentage of General Revenue
Styles of Federalism
--Dual Federalism
--Cooperative Federalism
--New Federalism
--Coerceive Federalism
----Insider Interview: George Kelleman, President of the Texas Retailers Association
Texas and Conflicts Over Federalism
--Texas Versus Washington
--Tidelands Controversy
--Voter Identification at Election Places
----Great Texas Political Debates: Sanctuary Cities
--Common Core Education Standards
The Insider View

Chapter 4: Voting and Elections
Voting in Texas
--Types of Elections
--Early Voting
--Mobile Voting
--Election Day
Suffrage and Their Consequences
--Literacy Tests
--Poll Tax
--White Primary
----Angles of Power: Political Machines
--African Americans
----Insider Interview: Victor Morales, US Senatorial Candidate in 1996
--Asian Americans
Voter Turnout in Texas
--Why Texans Don't Vote
--Social Pressue and Political Socialization
--How Can Voter Turnout be Increased?
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Voter Turnout by State, 2016
--Voter ID
How to Campaign, Texas Style
--Building a Campaign Infrastructure
--Image, Limelight, and the Media
--Negative Campaigning
--Courting the Base
--Surfing National Trends
--Funding Elections
Who Wins and Why
--Money and Election Outcomes
--Parties and Straight Ticket Voting
--Incumbents and Voter Turnout
----Great Texas Political Debates: Straight Ticket Voting
--The Electoral System
--Will Texas Turn Blue?
The Insider View

Chapter 5: Political Parties: Texas in Blue and Red
The Functions of Parties
--Simplifying Electoral Choices
--Recruiting Candidates
--Mobilizing Voters
--Articulating Interests
--Organizing Government
Party Organization
--Precinct Chairs
--County Party Chairs
--State Party Chair
--Party Executive Committees
--Party Conventions
--State Party Platforms
Rise and Fall of Political Parties in Texas
--Democratic Reign in the Postbellum Era
--The Decline of Democrats
--The Rise of Republicans
--Tea Party
--Fissures in the Republican Party
--Lessons from Texas Party Politics
----Insider Interview: Jared Woodfill, Former Harris County Republican Party Chair
Party Competition
--Redistricting and Party Competition
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Party Competiton, 1972-2015
--The 2001 and 2003 Redistricting Battles: The Drama Begins
----Angles of Power: The 2003 Redistricting Battles and the Killer Ds
--Redistricting in 2011: Maps and More Maps
--Redistricting in 2013: Back to Court
--Party Switching
----Great Texas Political Debates: Switching Parties
Third Parties and Independents
--La Raza Unida Party
--Libertarian Party of Texas
--Green Party of Texas
The Insider View

Chapter 6: Interest Groups
Interest Groups in the Political Process
--Pluralist Theory
--Elite Theory
--Transactional Theory
--Which Theory Fits Texas?
Why Join Interest Groups
--The Free Rider Problem
--Selective Benefits
Types of Interest Groups
--Business Groups
--Trade Associations and Professional Organizations
--Labor Unions
--Identity Groups
--Public Interest Groups
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Rates of Union Membership
--Single Issue Groups
--Government Interests
What Interest Groups Do
--Citizen Campaigns
--Lobbying the Courts, the Legislature, and the Executive Branch
Lobbying: The Third House
--The Role of Lobbyists
--What Lobbyists Do
----Insider Interview: Andrea McWilliams, co-founder of McWilliams Government Affairs Consultants
--Iron Triangles in Texas
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Number of Years Elected Officials Must Wait Before Becoming Lobbyists
Scandals and Reforms
--Sharpstown Scandal
--The 1991 Reforms
--"A Session of Ethics"
Oversight of Interest Groups
--Texas Ethics Commission
----Great Texas Political Debates: Enforcing Ethics Violations
The Insider View

Chapter 7: The Legislature
The Functions of the Legislature and Legislators
--Powers of the Legislature
--Texas House v. Senate
--Position Taking
--Credit Claiming
The Texas Legislature in Context
--The Legislative Session
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Length of Legislative Session
--Legislative Staff
--Legislative Boards and Councils
----Great Texas Political Debates: Should Texas Have Annual Legislative Sessions?
--Incumbency and Turnover
--Consequences of the Texas Legislative Structure
How the Legislature is Organized
--The Committee System
--Speaker of the House
--The Lieutenant Governor
The Legislative Process
--In Committee
--On the Floor
--House and Senate Agreement
--In Conference Committee
--The Real Enemy: The Calendar
--Rules Rule the Chambers
----Angles of Power: Politics Sometimes Makes Unlikely Bedfellows
Working Together
----Insider Interview: Ellic Sahualla, Chief of Staff and General Counsel to Representative Joe Moody
--Slowing It Down
--Speeding It Up
--Increasing Partisanship
Demographic Representation
The Insider View

Chapter 8: Governors of Texas
Rules of the Office
--Informal Qualifications
--Removal from Office
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Governor Staff Size
--Salary and Staff
Formal Powers of Texas Governors
--Execution of Laws
--Appointment Powers
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Unilateral Executive Orders by Governor in Select States
--Legislative Powers
--Military Powers
----Angles of Power: Governor Perry's Veto of Corruption Unit Funds
--Judicial Powers: Pardon and Clemency
Informal Power of Texas Governors
--Legislative Bargaining
----Insider Interview: Former Democratic Governor Mark White
--Agenda Setting
----Great Texas Political Debates: Personal Relations Between Governors and Lieutenant Governors
Weak and Strong Governor
--Sheer Length of Term
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Map of Gubernatorial Power
--Party Power
--Criticisms and Reforms
The Insider View

Chapter 9: The Plural Executive and the Bureaucracy
Bureaucracy in Texas
--The Size of the Texas Bureaucracy
--What the Texas Bureaucracy Does
----Is It Bigger in Texas? State Employees Per 10,000 Residents, 2015
--The Structure of the Texas Bureaucracy
Independently Elected Officers
--Lieutenant Governor
----Angles of Power: The Power of the Lieutenant Governor Beyond Politics
----Insider Interview: Bill Hobby, Former Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Texas
--Attorney General
----Is It Bigger in Texas? State Attorney General Cases Filed, 1980-2013
--Comptroller of Public Accounts
--Commissioner of the General Land Office
--Agriculture Commissioner
--Plural Executive Feuds
Governor-Appointed, Single-Head Agencies
--Secretary of State
--Comissioner for Health and Human Services
--Department of Insurance
Governor-Appointed, Multimember Agencies
--Public Utility Commission
--Department of Transportation
--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
--Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Multimember Elected Commissions and Hybrid Agencies
--Texas Railroad Commission
--Texas Ethics Commission
--State Board of Education
Controlling the Bureaucracy
--Selection of the Bureaucracy
--Sluggish Policymaking
--Oversight and Change
----Great Texas Political Debates: Sunset Sunset?
The Insider View

Chapter 10: The Texas Judiciary
The Role of the Court
--Dispensing Justice
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Total Trial Courts
--Interpreting the Law
Trial Courts
--Local Courts
--County Trial Courts
--State District Courts
Appellate Courts
--Intermediate Appellate Courts
--Appellate Courts of Last Resort
Quality of Justice in Texas
----Angles of Power: Two Supreme Courts?
--Caseload: Overworked Judges?
--Length of Court Cases
--Salary: Underpaid Judges?
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Salaries of Judges in the Five Most Populous States
--Turnover of Judges
--Access to Justice
Judicial Selection and Removal
--Judicial Selection in Texas
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Primary Judicial Selection Process by State
----Insider Interview: Former Chief Justice Tom Philips
--Censure and Removal from Office
--Judicial Qualifications
--Problems with Partisan Elections
----Great Texas Political Debates: The First Negative Judicial Race
Who Are the Justices?
--African Americans
Reforming the System
--Nonpartisan Elections
--Public Financing of Elections
--Limiting Fundraising Totals
--Merit Selection
The Insider View\

Chapter 11: Criminal Justice
Texan Justice
--Rights of the Accused
--Victim Rights
Types of Crimes
--Drug Crimes
--Juvenile Crime
Criminal Justice Process in Texas
----Angles of Power: Race and Finances in the Texas Prison System
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Comparing State and Community Supervision Populations
----Is It Bigger in Texas? State and Federal Prisoners under Jurisdiction of Correctional Authorities
----Great Texas Political Debates: Prison Conditions in Texas
--Death Penalty
Life After Prison
--Restricted Licensing, Employment, and Access to Programs
--Voting Rights
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Restrictions on Voting Post Felony by State
--Alternatives to Incarceration
--Bail Reforms
--Addressing Prison Suicides
----Insider Interview: Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Cathy Cochran
--Grand Jury Reform
--Death Penalty Reform
The Insider View

Chapter 12: Local Government
The Powers and Functions of Local Government
--Dillon's Rule
----Great Texas Political Debates: Ban the Bag?
--Local Regulation
----Angles of Power: Holding out for a HERO
County Government
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Number of Local Governments
--County Judge and Commissoner's Court
--County Sheriff
--County Prosecutors
--County Adminstrators
--County Finance Officials
City Governments
--General Law Cities
--Home Rule Cities
----Insider Interview: Local Activist Barry Klein, Texas Property Rights Association
Types of City Government
--Mayor-Council System
--Commission Government
--Council Manager System
Special Districts
--School Districts
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Special Purpose Districts Nationwide
--Special Improvement Districts
--Library Districts
--Municipal Utility Districts (UMDs)
--Hospital Districts
--Homeowners' Associations
--County Elections
--City Elections
--Minority Representation in Municipal Governments
--Low Turnout in Municipal Elections
--Voting and Corruption
Issues in Local Government
--Local Governments Short on Cash
--Rising Debt
--Cooperation Across Governments
--To Zone or Not to Zone
The Insider View

Chapter 13: Budget, Finances, and Policy
Taxes and Other Revenue Sources
--Sales Tax
----Is It Bigger in Texas? State and Local Sales Taxes, 2016
--Property Tax
--Franchise (Business) Taxes
--Oil and Natural Gas Taxes
--Car Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax ("Gas Tax") and Motor Vehicle Taxes
--Sin Taxes
--Fees and Fines
--The Rainy Day and Other Funds
--Why No Income Tax?
--Debates Over Taxes?
The Budget
--Budget Cycle
--Budget Limitations
--Budget Players and Process
--Policy Priorities and Expenditure
Health Care and Welfare
----Insider Interview: Eva DeLuna Castro, State Budget Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities
--Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
--The Affordable Care Act
----Is It Bigger in Texas? Health Care Sign Ups
--Social Security
--Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
----Great Texas Political Debates: Drug Testing for Benefits
--Worker's Compensation
Immigration and Border Security
--Sources of K-12 Funding
--School of Finance
----Angles of Power: School FInance
--Teacher, Student, and School Performance
--Diversity in Public Education
--Higher Education
Energy and the Environment
--Energy Sources
The Insider View


About the author: 

Brandon Rottinghaus is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Senator Don Henderson Scholar at the University of Houston.

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