Meet your leaders
As an American and a Texan, it is very important that you know what is going on in your community. You have the opportunity to get involved and help decide who makes policy decisions for you and your family. When you turn 18, you have the privilege of voting for whom you feel would be the best candidate to run your state and your country.
The local, state and federal government impact teens with all kinds of legislation therefore it is imperative to get involved in the legislative process! You have the right to call and/or write your federal and state legislators and let them know how you feel about policy decisions and legislation.
The right to vote
The United States is a democracy, and it is each citizens duty to participate in the election process. Each Election Day, voters determine how our government is run, who is elected and how we will deal with issues of importance.
Unfortunately, you may feel like your vote doesnt count. That could not be further from the truth! A government by the people, for the people just can't work without the people. You have the power to make changes in our community. By casting your vote, you can help decide what direction your country of state is heading!
United States Government
The three branches of U.S. government-legislative, judicial, and executive-carry out the governmental power and functions of our great nation.
The executive branch is responsible for enforcing our laws. The President, who also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, serves as head of the executive branch. The President, the Vice President, the Presidents appointed cabinet members, and the heads of other federal agencies work together to preserve, protect and defend the laws of this country.
To run for President, you must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years of age, and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years. Once elected, the President serves a term of four years and may be re-elected only once.
The US judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. The Supreme Court is the most visible of all the federal courts. Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Currently, the Court is composed of one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices.
Finally, the legislative branch, the United States Congress, is a bicameral legislature consisting of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has 435 seats, and the number of seats for each state is based on state population. The Senate has only 100 seats, two members from each state. Members of the House of Representatives are elected for two-year terms, and Senators are elected for six-year terms.
Texas state government
Texas government also has three branches - executive, legislative, and judicial.
Although the Governor is the head of the executive branch, the 1876 constitution provides for a plural executive. This means the Governor must share power with other elected and appointed officials including the Lt. Governor, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the commissioner of the General Land Office, and the commissioner of Agriculture, and, you guessed it, the Attorney General! (should we add the railroad commissioners and the state board of education?)
The executive branch's constitutional authority is not limited to the executive officers above; the executive branch is also composed of hundreds of state agencies, commissions, and educational institutions.
The Texas Constitution provides for a part-time legislature that meets for 140 days every other year. The Texas Legislature, a bicameral body similar to the U.S. Congress, consists of the House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
Each House member serves a two-year term. The House of Representatives is led by the Speaker of the House; the Speaker is elected by the 150 members of the House at the beginning of each legislative session.
The Senate is composed of 31 members and is led by the statewide-elected lieutenant governor. Senators serve four-year terms, except that in the year following each decade's census, half of the senators (selected by drawing lots) then elected serve for two years.
Lastly, the Texas judicial branch was created by the Texas constitution and includes a state Supreme Court, a Court of Criminal Appeals, 14 appeals courts, and a system of state district courts. The Texas Supreme Court is the state's final appellate court for civil and juvenile cases. The Supreme Court is made up of one chief justice and eight justices, and all justices are elected on a statewide ballot for overlapping six-year terms.