How do you amend the Texas Constitution?
- Texas Constitution
- ARTICLE 17. MODE OF AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS STATE
- Sec. 1. PROPOSED AMENDMENTS; PUBLICATION; SUBMISSION TO VOTERS; ADOPTION
- The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876, and since that time Texas voters have approved 474 amendments. When Texans go to the polls on Nov. 5, 2013, they will consider nine proposed constitutional amendments (see page 17).
- Amendments to the Texas Constitution come in the form of joint resolutions instead of bills. These joint resolutions originate in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.
- Amendments may be proposed in regular sessions of the Texas Legislature or in special sessions.
- The amendments require a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership in each house for adoption.
- Joint resolutions are not sent to the governor for approval, but are filed directly with the secretary of state.
- A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Texas Constitution does not become effective until it is approved by Texas voters in a general election.
- The Legislature may call an election for consideration of proposed constitutional amendments on any date, as long as election authorities have enough time to provide notice to the voters and print the ballots. Most proposals have been submitted at the November general election held in odd-numbered years.
- The secretary of state conducts a random drawing to assign each proposition a ballot number if more than one proposition is being considered.
- Article 17, Sec. 1 of the Texas Constitution requires that a brief explanatory statement of the nature of each proposed amendment, along with the ballot wording for each, be published twice in each newspaper in the state that prints official notices. The first notice must be published 50 to 60 days before the election. The second notice must be published on the same day of the following week. Also, the secretary of state must send a complete copy of each amendment to each county clerk, who must post it in the courthouse at least 30 days before the election.
- The secretary of state prepares the explanatory statement, which must be approved by the attorney general, and arranges for the required newspaper publication.
- If voters reject an amendment proposal, the Legislature may resubmit the amendment proposal.
- Some constitutional amendments enact themselves and do not require additional legislation. Other amendments grant discretionary authority to the Legislature to enact legislation in a particular area or within certain guidelines. These amendments require “enabling” legislation to fill in the details of how the amendment would operate. The Legislature often adopts enabling legislation in advance, making the effective date of the legislation contingent on voter approval of a particular amendment. If voters reject the amendment, the legislation dependent on the constitutional change does not take effect.
- Constitutional amendments take effect when the official vote canvass confirms statewide majority approval, unless a later date is specified. Statewide election results are tabulated by the secretary of state and must be canvassed by the governor 15 to 30 days following the election. H