The Democratic Party held a monolithic political presence in Texas from the beginning of its statehood until the late 20th century. Texas harbored a deep resentment towards the Republican Party for the Reconstruction after the American Civil War. Conservative Democrats however, but endorsed many Republican presidential candidates because they perceived a liberal shift in the national Democratic Party. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he reportedly said "We have lost the South." After that, the Democrats gradually lost influence in Texas. In 1978, the state elected its first post-reconstruction governor, and in 2003, Republicans gained control of the state legislature for the first time. Today, Republicans control most of Texas's House delegation, and both U.S. Senators. Since 1994 no Democrat has been elected to a statewide office in Texas. The remains of the state's Democratic presence is primarily comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, and urban voters, particularly in Austin. Democrats and independents still hold many positions in city governments, including the mayors and most city council positions in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
The Texas political atmosphere leans towards fiscal and social conservatism. Texas leads the country in executions performed. Thestate recently adopted a resolution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Austin, is considered the state's liberal or "populist" bastion, though Austin's suburbs generally vote conservative. Houston and Dallas are among the few urban areas that consistently vote Republican, but their metropolitan areas are very divided politically. These cities tend to favor a more socially tolerant, pro-business brand of Republicanism. In Houston, the election of conservative commentator Dan Patrick to the State Senate in 2006 sparked an outcry from the city's moderate Republican establishment.
Main article: Capital punishment in Texas
The justice system in Texas has a strict sentencing for criminals. Texas leads the nation in executions, with 400 executions from 1982 to 2007. Only capital murder is eligible for the death penalty. A bill making the rape of a child a capital crime in some instances is currently under consideration. Before 2005, the alternate sentence was life with the possibility of parole after 40 calendar years; in 2005, the law was modified to make the alternate sentence life without parole.
Known for their role in Texas law enforcement history, the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety continue to provide special law enforcement services to the state. Texas Game Wardens-law enforcement officers working for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department-are given the same amount of authority as any other law enforcement officer. It is a common myth that they can enter private property without a search warrant and search people or vehicles with no probable cause.
Map outlining 254 counties of Texas
Texas has a total of 254 counties-the most of any state. Each county is run by a commissioners' court consisting of four elected commissioners and a county judge elected from all the voters of the county. County government is similar to the "weak" mayor-council system; the county judge has no veto authority, but votes along with the other commissioners. All county elections are partisan.
Unlike other states, Texas does not allow for consolidated city-county governments, nor does it have a form of metropolitan government. Cities and counties are permitted to enter "interlocal agreements" to share services. Further, counties are not granted "home rule" status; their powers are strictly defined by state law and the Texas Constitution.
Texas does not have townships- areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Incorporated areas are part of a municipality either as a town or a city, though it may contract with the county for needed services. Unincorporated areas are not part of a municipality; in these areas, the county has authority for law enforcement and road maintenance. Municipalities are classified as either "general law" or "home rule". A municipality may elect home rule status (draft an independent charter) once it exceeds 5,000 population and the voters agree to home rule. Otherwise, it is classified as general law and has very limited powers. All municipal elections in Texas are nonpartisan. Once a municipality elects home rule status, it keeps that status even if the population later falls below 5,000.
See also: List of Texas counties, List of Texas county name etymologies, and List of Texas county seat name etymologies
Main article: Economy of Texas
Texas's economy is known for its energy and aeronautics industries, and for the ship channel at the Port of Houston-the largest in the U.S. in international commerce and the sixth-largest port in the world. The state is home to the most Fortune 500 companies and has the second-largest economy in the United States. The Texas Medical Center in Houston contains the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions.
In 2006, Texas had a gross state product of $1.09 trillion, the second highest in the U.S. Gross state product per capita as of 2005 was $42,975. Texas leads the nation in number of cattle, which usually exceed 16 million head. Cotton is the leading crop and the state's second-most-valuable farm product. Texas also leads nationally in production of grain sorghum, watermelons, cabbages, and spinach. Wheat, corn, and other grains are also important.
The "tails" side of the Texas quarter
Texas's growth can be attributed to the availability of jobs, the low cost of housing, the lack of a personal state income tax, high quality of education, low taxation and limited regulation of business, a geographic location in the center of the country, limited government (the Texas Legislature meets only once every two years), favorable climate in many areas of the state, and vast, plentiful supplies of oil and natural gas. The known petroleum deposits of Texas are about 8 billion barrels, which makes up approximately one-third of the known U. S. supply. Texas has 4.6 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves. There are currently 33 billionaires residing in Texas today. Dallas has 11 billionaires, the most of any city in Texas.
Economic trends in Texas.
Texas remained largely rural until World War II, with cattle ranching,