Article III, Section 40 of the Texas Constitution

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Adopted February 15, 1876:

When the Legislature shall be convened in special session, there shall be no legislation upon subjects other than those designated in the proclamation of the governor calling such session, or presented to them by the governor; and no such session shall be of longer duration than thirty days.

Editor Comments

Article IV, Section 8(a) provides: "The Governor may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the Legislature at the seat of Government, or at a different place, in case that should be in possession of the public enemy or in case of the prevalence of disease threat. His proclamation therefor shall state specifically the purpose for which the Legislature is convened."

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions


Historic Decisions

  • Maldonado v. State, 473 S.W.2d 26, 28 (Tex.Crim.App. 1971) (footnote omitted) ("There is no reason why the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court of Texas, the two courts of last resort of our State, should have a different rule construing the constitutionality of statutes passed at special sessions of the Legislature. . . . The Supreme Court cases are more recent than ours and no doubt have been relied upon by the Legislature and by the Governor. We will not look behind the engrossed bill to see if the Governor issued a proclamation including the subject matter of the enacted legislation. All cases holding to the contrary are overruled.")
  • City of Houston v. Allred, 71 S.W.2d 251, 257 (Tex. 1934) ("The above act is regular upon its face. It was properly signed by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, and was duly authenticated by the proper officers of both houses. Also it was duly received and approved by the Governor, and filed in the office of the Secretary of State. It is now the settled law of this state that the courts will not go behind such a record to ascertain if the subject-matter of legislation enacted by a special session of the Legislature was in response to a subject designated by the Governor's proclamation calling the special session, or otherwise presented by him.")
  • Jackson v. Walker, 49 S.W.2d 693, 693-94 (Tex. 1932) ("[I]t has been held that it is not contemplated that the Governor shall state the details of legislation in his proclamation convening the Legislature in special session, but only in a general way present the subjects for legislation. . . . The rule has long been established in this state that a duly authenticated, approved, and enrolled statute imports absolute verity and is conclusive; that the act was passed in every respect as designated by the Constitution; and that resort may not be had to the proclamation of the Governor and to the journals of the two houses to invalidate the law.")
  • Ferguson v. Maddox, 263 S.W. 888, 891 (Tex. 1924) ("It is insisted that such inhibition is contained in article 3, s 40, which provides that legislation at a special session shall be confined to the subjects mentioned in the proclamation of the Governor convening it. This language is significant and plain. It purposely and wisely imposes no limitation, save as to legislation. As neither House acts in a legislative capacity in matters of impeachment, this section imposes no limitation with relation thereto, and the broad power conferred by article 15 stands without limit or qualification as to the time of its exercise.")
  • Ex parte Wolters, 144 S.W. 531, 535 (Tex.Crim.App. 1911) ("To the mind of the writer, these are answered definitely by article 3, § 40. By the express terms of that section, the Legislature is expressly restricted and limited, first, to the passage only of such laws as the Governor has authorized in his proclamation, or in subsequent messages submitted by him; and, second, either or both houses may have authority to make investigations looking to the enactment of such laws as are within the proclamation of message of the Governor, but the Legislature may not and cannot investigate matters for legislative purposes not within the proclamation.")

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