The State of Texas Should Have a Full-Time Legislature - Argumentative Essay

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1770 Words
Date:  2022-08-31

Introduction

The state of Texas is one of the most populous states in the United States of America that still maintains a part-time and biennial legislature. The Texas state constitution limits the legislative sessions to one hundred and forty days held in every odd number year with an addition of thirty-day special session called by the governor whenever a pressing need arise. Its legislature is ranked 11th among the American states assemblies that meet less frequently (Farrier 11). The part-time and biennial legislative structure establishes a limited government with private citizens as legislators enabling the state cut on costs incurred in compensating its lawmakers. The state pays its legislators a salary of $ 7,200 in a legislative year and $28,000 in a legislative year with special sessions (Jewell 115). This meager salary represents approximately a half of what Michigan full-time state legislator earns as a congressional salary. Therefore, the main aim of maintaining the part-time legislature is to cut on costs of the legislative process.

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However, the benefit of low cost of legislation comes with profound welfare loss to the citizens of Texas State. The part-time and biennial legislative structure is usually time-constrained regarding parliamentary time leading to pending of many bills crucial to enhancing the lives of citizens (Kurtz 5). The legislative structure makes it difficult for legislators to legislate on emerging issues especially over the off-session period. The two years off-session period requires the comptroller to forecast budget over an extended period compared to a full-time legislature structure (Jewell 115). As a result, occasionally the Texas state budget estimates fall short by far of the actual budgetary requirements. Therefore, the state of Texas should have a full-time legislature to provide its legislators with adequate time to make more laws that accrue welfare benefits to its citizens. A full-time legislature also enables appropriate legislation on pressing emerging issues affecting Texans and allows the comptroller to come up with more accurate budget estimates due to shorter forecasting period. The full-time legislature also helps to develop more professional legislators due to increased engagement and less influence by corporates and lobbyist who exercise significant control over the private citizen legislators creating a conflict of interests (Farrier 23.

Challenges Facing the Current Texas Part-Time Legislature

The Texas State legislature currently faces many problems related to its part-time and biennial framework (Boris and McCarty 531). These challenges include the pending of many bills that means a lot to the welfare of the citizens of Texas State. The Texas constitution limits the legislative sessions to one hundred and forty days in every two years creating a time-constrained legislative process. The legislatures lack enough time to pass even most crucial bills to the wellbeing of the Texas citizens. For example, by the end of the 84th legislature session, 5,797 bills out of the filed 11,332 bills did not make through the legislative process due to lack of enough time. Most of these bills involved crucial issues that directly impacted on the wellbeing of the Texas citizens (Boris and McCarty 539). For instance, the rising death rates a result of preventable accidents caused by people texting while driving had prompted the filling of the H80 bill that intended to prohibit texting-while-driving statewide. However, the bill did not go through before the adjournment of the 84th legislature session. It means that the state legislature had failed to create more safe roads for Texans just because of limited legislative time. Many other essential bills remain pending for the two years after a session ends due to the biennial structure (Taylor 19).

The biennial legislative structure also makes it hard for timely legislation of emerging issues (Farrier 27). The adjournment of a session means that the legislators will have to wait for the two years to even legislate on immediate and pressing issues affecting the citizens. Even then, in most cases, priority is given to pending bills originating from the past session. In the process, many competing bills pile up making it hard for the legislature to focus on new emerging issues affecting its citizens (Boris and McCarty 538). For example, due to competing for pending bills the legislature failed to pass into law the bill prohibiting texting-while-driving yet the previous year accident statistics revealed the surge in accidents as a result of the irresponsible driving. The issue requires urgent intervention through legislation to reverse the trend yet the time-constrained legislature could not timely legislate on the matter. There are many other emerging and critical issues that the part-time Texas legislature have failed to timely legislate on leading to welfare loss for citizens. In other cases, due to time constraints, the legislature hurriedly passes bills into law without enough deliberation (Jewell 124). Such laws at times lead to adverse outcomes predictable with adequate consideration among all stakeholders.

The part-time and biennial legislative structure also requires the Texas state comptroller to make budget estimates for over two years. The biennial budgeting creates many budgetary challenges compared annual budgeting. Long period over which the comptroller needs to forecast increase the probability of making inaccurate estimations. The increased volatility of the state revenue sources situation due to increased overreliance on sales and personal income taxes makes the long period estimates quite unreliable (Squire 105). This volatility of the state budget revenue sources makes occasionally led to substantial budget deficits. The Texas State suffered a major budgetary setback in the year 2011 as a result of the then Comptroller Susan Combs underestimating the two-year budget by approximately $12 billion (Jewell 205). The substantial fiscal inaccuracy forced the Texas State to enact several austerity measures that impacted negatively to the welfare of its citizens. The mistake prompted the budgetary cutting of $5.6 billion from the public education docket leading to the laying off of approximately 25,000 employees. The errors of biennial budget making led to significant social and economic welfare loss for citizens of the state of Texas (Boris and McCarty 545). As the Texas State budget grew larger and more complicated, it became more challenging and time consuming to prepare a two-year budget. The state two-year budget-making process wastes a significant amount of time as the legislators scrutinize lengthy budget forecasts. At times, the budgeting process consumes time for other policies and bills equally crucial for the wellbeing of Texas state residents.

The state of Texas part-time legislature consists of private citizens' legislators usually committed to another side job to complement the meager compensation for the legislative job (Leroy, 68). Most of the legislators take up another full-time job or are engaged in business. The engagement to another demanding activity leads to divided attention which makes it difficult for the lawmakers to concentrate on improving their legislating skills adequately. This factor lowers their efficiency in doing their job. The legislation process takes a longer period in Texas compared to other states running a full-time legislature blamed on the inefficiency of the legislators (Farrier 18). Their inefficiency also makes it hard for them to legislate on complex and technical policies yet the state continues to face emerging complex social and economic systems and issues that require holistic regulations.

During the off-session period, the lawmakers remain engrossed in their side jobs and businesses leaving little or no time for interacting with their constituents to capture the immediate needs of the citizens (Taylor 21). They also rush through the legislative process due to limited time to complete overwhelming work forcing them to inadequately conduct or even skip public participation which is an integral part of the lawmaking process. In most cases, the legislative process lacks public input either directly or indirectly leading to declined public acceptance of the laws made (Leroy 79). The reduced public acceptance of the laws and policies enacted makes the implementation process more demanding.

It also emerges that the side jobs or business interests predispose the legislators to undue influence from employers, corporates, lobbies, business partners among others (Jewell, 208). The undue influence introduces a conflict of interests in the lawmaking process. Some of the lawmakers will be inclined to propose or vote in favor of bills inclined to their jobs and business interests as private citizens. For instance, in the year 2011, Houston lawmaker passionately opposed a bill proposing a stricter regulation on payday loans which his side business (Karl et al. 333). Therefore, other sources of income act as incentives for them to pursue matters that improve an individual's wellbeing rather than focusing on the welfare of the entire state.

The poor compensations of the current part-time Texas state legislature discourage more qualified people from taking up the legislative work (Jillson 147). The poor salaries only attract people of good will, willing to serve the society most of whom lack required skills to legislate on the increasingly complex and technical issues affecting the residents. Another reason for the lack of professionals in the legislature is the fact that very few professions would allow one to take the 140 day off duty to take part in the regular legislation process. The inadequate compensation also discourages the legislators from seeking to serve longer office tenure encouraging high turnover. The high turnover of private citizen legislators under the current part-time legislature structure prevents them from gathering enough legislating experience and skills (Kogan et al. 36). It results in less efficient state lawmaking body that proposes and passes poor laws and policies which leads to welfare loss for the citizens of Texas.

The above-described challenges necessitate the transformation of state Texas legislature to a full-time structure. The change requires a constitutional amendment and comes with additional costs such as increased salaries for the legislators. However, the expected benefits of changing to a full-time legislature framework offset the extra costs to be incurred as a result by far and wide.

Expected Benefits to the State of Texas Prompting the Shift to a Full-time Legislature

The adoption of a full-time legislature would accrue many welfare benefits to the citizens of Texas State and their legislators. A full-time legislature structure enables the legislators to create more legislative time annually (Jillson 136). The extra time created would allow them to enact more bills per session and pass more laws than in the current framework. The problem of piling pending bills regarding essential public policy issues will be solved by the increased legislative time. Consequently, with more progressive laws on social and economic issues, the welfare of the citizens will significantly improve (Leroy 75). The rules create an enabling environment for all citizens to enhance their living standards and guard them against welfare loss. The increased legislative time also provides the lawmakers with an adequate period to develop and deliberate on policies or laws to be enacted. The full-time framework significantly reduces the legislators' workload per session creating more time for deliberations on various issues affecting the Texas residents. It facilitates the passing of well-informe...

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The State of Texas Should Have a Full-Time Legislature - Argumentative Essay. (2022, Aug 31). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/the-state-of-texas-should-have-a-full-time-legislature-argumentative-essay

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