Select ONE of the following topics to answer for Writing Assignment 2. The writing assignment should be a minimum of 750 words.
- 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.
- 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? How do you think that Texas judges should be selected? Explain your reasoning. How does being appointed or elected affect the accountability and independence of judges? How informed do you think the public is about judicial elections and judicial candidates?
- Read Chapter 11 in the textbook. Texas is considered to have one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation. Define “regressive” and “progressive” taxes. What makes the Texas tax system “regressive?” How might Texas make its tax system more “progressive?” What would prevent Texas from having a more progressive tax system? Is it the job of the tax system to promote equality of taxation across all income groups?
- 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?