Writing Assignment 1
Select ONE of the following topics to answer for Writing Assignment 1. The writing assignment should be a minimum of 750 words. You should find most of the information you need to complete the assignment in the textbook, but it may improve your submission by using additional sources (such as news articles or government websites). See the Writing Assignment Instructions for more information.
Writing Assignment 1 — topics covering Chapters 1-7
- Compared to the US Constitution, why is the Texas Constitution so frequently amended? How does the turnout for elections dealing with constitutional amendments compare to turnout for presidential elections? (Refer to “Who are Texans?” in Chapter 2). Do you think the level of turnout influences the legitimacy of the amendments that are passed or rejected? Do you think that more people should participate in constitutional amendment elections? Why or why not? Is there anything the state can do to increase turnout for constitutional amendment elections?
- What are some of the past and more recent barriers to voting in Texas? (Be specific) What accounts for the low level of voter participation in Texas? What can be done to increase voter participation? (Specifically discuss at least two policy proposals that election officials could adopt.) Under legislation passed in 2017, Texas will be eliminating straight-ticket voting beginning with the 2020 elections. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
- Discuss the gender, racial and educational makeup of the Texas Legislature. (Refer to “Who are Texans?” in Chapter 7.) Does it adequately represent the population of the state? If the legislature had more people of color, more women, or more people of varying levels of education, do you think it would pass different policies? If so, what kinds of policies might they pass? (Be specific here.) Does the part-time nature of the Texas legislature encourage or discourage people from particular occupations to run? Do you think a full-time legislature could make the legislature more representative? Why or why not?
Writing Assignment 2 — topics covering Chapters 8-13
Select ONE of the following topics to answer for Writing Assignment 2. The writing assignment should be a minimum of 750 words. You should find most of the information you need to complete the assignment in the textbook, but it may improve your submission by using additional sources (such as news articles or government websites). See the Writing Assignment Instructions for more information.
- What is a plural executive model? How does the single executive model differ from the plural executive model? What are the arguments for and against a plural executive? Do you believe that the plural executive is more democratic than the single executive model? Why or why not? Do you believe the plural executive lead to more efficient and accountable government? Why or why not? Under the plural executive system, how does the power of the governor in Texas compare to other states? (Use specific examples)
- How are state judges selected in Texas? Discuss two different methods used in other states for selecting judges. What are the arguments for each of the selection methods you discussed? Do you think that judges should be elected or appointed? Explain your reasoning. How informed do you think the public is about judicial elections and judicial candidates? If you were voting for a judge, would you research the candidates and their qualifications or would you vote based on party affiliation?
- Do you think that sales taxes are a fair way for the state to generate revenue? Why or why not? As described in The Texas Tribune article “How Texas lawmakers tax swap plan could affect Texans”, there was a proposal in the 2019 legislative session to increase the sales tax to offset a reduction in property taxes. Do you think trading a sales tax increase for a property tax decrease is a fair approach for the majority of Texans? Why or why not? What happened to this proposal during the 2019 legislative session? (Note: The Texas Tribune is a good resource for information on the legislative session.)