Texas has a colorful history. At various points, it was part of six different countries. Its 254 counties include wide open spaces to the west and some of the biggest cities in the United States, including Houston, the fourth-largest. Part of the state legislature fled to Oklahoma in 2003 in an attempt to block a redrawing of congressional district lines. Throw in a fierce, if somewhat quirky sense of independence, and Texas government offers a lot of potentially interesting topics for research papers.
The state anthem is "Texas, Our Texas," but people outside the state could be forgiven for wondering whose Texas it really was. The state was part of Spain, France and Mexico before becoming the standalone Republic of Texas; it was later part of the Confederate States of America and, of course, the United States of America. Add in its diverse population and border with Mexico, the longest of any state in the nation, and you have the makings for a potentially rich research paper on the influence of foreign governments on Texas.
Popular legend claims that Texas joined the Union in 1845 only after agreeing that it could secede if things didn't work out. The legend is a little bit true. There's no such clause in the current state constitution, adopted in 1876, or in the annexation agreement. But the Texas constitution does say it's "only subject to the Constitution of the United States," leaving a little bit of room for debate in a research paper.
Texas, along with Nevada, Montana and North Dakota, are the only states whose legislatures meet biennially, or every other year. The biennial schedule, along with one of the lowest rates of per-capita spending in the nation, can pose severe problems during economic downturns. A good research paper could be written about the effects of the recent recession on the state's budget and how Texas lawmakers deal with multi-billion dollar deficits in 2011.
Texas government has had a colorful cast of characters since its creation. Its first president, Sam Houston, was known to the Cherokee tribe as "Big Drunk." The late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock was considered "meaner than a skillet full of rattlesnakes." And former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower once remarked about former President George W. Bush: "If ignorance ever goes to $40 per barrel, I want drilling rights to that man's head." Texas political humor is an entertaining subject, with no shortage of research material.
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