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 much of the information you need to complete the assignment in the textbook, but you may also need to use additional sources (such as news articles or government websites). Make sure to provide a citation for all sources used in your paper. See the Writing Assignment Instructions for more information.
- During the 2020 COVID pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott was criticized by members of both parties — by the Democrats for inadequate restrictions and by the Republicans (his own party) for having too many restrictions. In response, a constitutional amendment was proposed in the 2021 Texas legislative session that would limit the powers of the governor in a pandemic or other crisis. What restrictions on the governor’s powers were proposed? What were the arguments for and against these restrictions? What happened to this proposal during the regular session? Do you believe that the governor exceeded his authority during the pandemic or do you believe the governor’s actions did not go far enough? Be sure to explain your position in detail.
- Looking back at Chapter 3, Texans and Texas politicians have regularly been opposed to an increased federal role in state matters and have argued against federal “preemption.” However, Chapter 10 describes how the state government has not held itself to that same standard when it comes to state preemption of Texas cities and counties. Define “preemption.” What are some areas where the state has either attempted to or was successful in preempting local ordinances and/or local officials? Provide several examples and discuss one of them in detail. What is the argument of the local government on that issue? What is the argument of state officials on the same issue? Which side do you agree with and why? Is it appropriate for state political leaders to argue for more “local control” when dealing with the federal government, but then argue against “local control” when dealing with local governments within the state?
- According to “Who Governs Texas’ Cities?” in Chapter 10 of the textbook, which city council in Texas best reflects the racial/ethnic composition of its population? Explain how you came to this conclusion. Which city council diverges the most from its city’s population? Explain how you came to this conclusion. Do you think it is important that city councils reflect the racial/ethnic composition of their communities? Why or why not? Describe an issue a city might face where the racial/ethnic composition of the city council might matter in resolving that issue.
- Read about Welfare Policy and Medicaid and Health Care Policy in Chapter 12 of your textbook. Also, review Sections 2 and 5 of the Poverty in Texas content by the Texas Politics Project and the Texas Tribune article “Poverty in Texas drops to lowest level in a decade.” Why does Texas have such a high poverty rate (when compared to other states in the U.S.), and what steps might the state government take to reduce the poverty level? How does the political culture of Texas (refer back to Chapter 1) influence the government’s response to poverty? What are the conservative vs. liberal explanations for poverty (see section 5 in the “Poverty in Texas” content)? What role do you believe the state and federal governments should play, if any, to reduce the poverty rate?
- Discuss how the racial/ethnic makeup of the overall prison population and the death row population in Texas compares to the racial/ethnic breakdown of the general population in Texas. (Review “Who are Texans?” – Chapter 13) What might explain the racial/ethnic makeup of the prison population in Texas? Which regions of the country have higher incarceration rates and death penalty usage? (Review “Texas and the Nation” – Chapter 13) What do you think explains the differences in the regional patterns of incarceration and death penalty usage? After reading Chapter 13, how do you feel about the fairness of the Texas criminal justice system? To respond to crime in Texas, should the state decriminalize certain behavior, reduce sentence lengths, invest in crime prevention (such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation), or build more prisons?