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Constitution of the State of Texas (1876)

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ARTICLE XVI.
General Provisions.

SECTION 1. Members of the Legislature, and all officers, before they enter upon the duties of their offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation: "I, (........) do solemnly sear, (or affirm), that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform al the duties incumbent upon me as ........, according to the best of my skill and ability, agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State; and I do further solemnly swear, (or affirm), that since the adoption of the constitution of this State, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons, within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, or aided, advised or assisted any person thus offending. And I furthermore solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I have not directly, nor indirectly paid, offered or promised to pay, contributed, nor promised to contribute any money, or valuable thing, or promised any public office or employment, as a reward for the giving or withholding a vote at the election at which I was elected, (or if the office is one of appointment, to secure my appointment.) So help me god."

SEC. 2 Laws shall be made to exclude from office, serving on juries, and from the right of suffrage, those who may have been or shall hereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes. The privilege of free suffrage shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting under adequate penalties all undue influence therein from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practice.

SEC. 3. The Legislature shall make provision whereby persons convicted of misdemeanors and committed to the county jails in default of payment of fines and costs, shall be required to discharge such fines and costs by manual labor, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 4. Any citizen of this State who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, either within this State or out of it, or who shall act as second, or knowingly assist in any manner those thus offending, shall be deprived of the right of suffrage, or of holding any office of trust or profit under this State.

SEC. 5. Every person shall be disqualified from holding any office of profit, or trust in this State, who shall have been convicted of having given or offered a bribe to procure his election or appointment.

SEC. 6. No appropriation for private or individual purposes shall be made. A regular statement, under oath, and an account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published annually, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 7. The Legislature shall, in no case, have power to issue "Treasury Warrants," "Treasury Notes," or paper of any description intended to circulate as money.

SEC. 8. Each county in the State may provide, in such manner as may be prescribed by law, a manual labor poor house and farm, for taking care of, managing, employing and supplying the wants of its indigent and poor inhabitants.

SEC. 9. Absence on business of the State, or of the United States shall not forfeit a residence once obtained, so as to deprive any one of the right of suffrage, or of being elected or appointed to any office under the exceptions contained in this Constitution.

SEC. 10. The Legislature shall provide for deductions from the salaries of public officers who may neglect the performance of any duty that may be assigned them by law.

SEC. 11. The legal rate of interest shall not exceed eight per cent. per annum, in the absence of any contract as to the rate of interest; and by contract parties may agree upon any rate not to exceed 12 per cent. per annum. All interest charged above this last named rate shall be deemed usurious, and the Legislature shall, at its first session, provide appropriate pains and penalties to prevent and punish usury.

SEC. 12. No member of Congress, not person holding or exercising any office of profit or trust, under the United States, or either of them, or under any foreign power, shall be eligible as a member of the Legislature, or hold or exercise any office of profit or trust under this State.

SEC. 13. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary and proper to decide differences by arbitration, when the parties shall elect that method of trial.

SEC. 14. All civil officers shall reside within the State; and all district or county officers within their districts or counties, and shall keep their offices at such places as may be required by law; and failure to comply with this condition shall vacate the office so held.

SEC. 15. All property, both real and personal, of the wife, owned or claimed by her before marriage; and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife, in relation as well to her separate property as that held in common with her husband. Laws shall also be passed providing for the registration of the wife's separate property.

SEC. 16. No corporate body shall hereafter be created, renewed or extended with banking or discounting privileges.

SEC. 17. All officers within this State shall continue to perform the duties of their offices until their successors shall be duly qualified.

SEC. 18. The rights of property and of action, which have been acquired under the constitution and laws of the Republic and State, shall not be divested; nor shall any rights or actions which have been divested, barred, or declared null and void by the Constitution of the Republic and State, be reinvested, renewed, or reinstated by this Constitution; but the same shall remain precisely in the situation which they were before the adoption of this Constitution, unless otherwise herein provided; and provided further, that no cause of action heretofore barred shall be revived.

SEC. 19. The Legislature shall prescribe by law the qualification of grand and petit jurors.

SEC. 20. The Legislature shall, at its first session, enact a law whereby the qualified voters of any county, justice's precinct, town or city, by a majority vote, from time to time, may determine whether the sale of intoxicating liquors shall be prohibited within the prescribed limits.

SEC. 21. All stationery, and printing, except proclamations and such printing as may be done at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, paper and fuel used in the legislative and other departments of the government, except the judicial department, shall be furnished, and the printing and binding of the laws, journals and department reports, and all other printing and binding, and the repairing and furnishing the halls and rooms used for the meetings of the Legislature, and its committees, shall be performed under contract, to be given to the lowest responsible bidder below such maximum price and under such regulations as shall be prescribed by law. No member or officer of any department of the government shall be in any way interested in such contracts; and all such contracts shall be subject to the approval of the governor, secretary of state and comptroller.

SEC. 22. The Legislature shall have the power to pass such fence laws, applicable to any subdivision of the State, or counties, as may be needed to meet the wants of the people.

SEC. 23. The Legislature may pass laws for the regulation of live stock and the protection of stock raisers in the stock raising portion of the State, and exempt from the operation of such laws other portions, sections, or counties; and shall have power to pass general and special laws for the inspection of cattle, stock and hides, and for the regulations of brands; provided, that any local law thus passed shall be submitted to the freeholders of the section to be affected thereby, and approved by them, before it shall go into effect.

SEC. 24. The Legislature shall make provision for laying out and working public roads, for the building of bridges, and for utilizing fines, forfeitures, and convict labor to all these purposes.

SEC. 25. That all drawbacks and rebatement of insurance, freight, transportation, carriage, wharfage, storage, compressing, baling, repairing, or for any other kind of labor or service, of or to any cotton, grain, or any other produce or article, of commerce in this State, paid, or allowed, or contracted for, to any common carrier, shipper, merchant, commission merchant, factor, agent, or middle man of any kind, not the true and absolute owner thereof, are forever prohibited, and it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass effective laws punishing all persons in this State who pay, receive or contract for, or respecting the same.

SEC. 26. Every person, corporation, or company, that may commit a homicide, through wilful act, or omission, or gross neglect, shall be responsible, in exemplary damages, to the surviving husband, widow, heirs of his or her body, or such of them as there may be, without regard to any criminal proceeding that may or may not be had in relation to the homicide.

SEC. 27. In all elections to fill vacancies of office in this State, it shall be to fill the unexpired term only.

SEC. 28. No current wages for personal service shall ever be subject to garnishment.

SEC. 29. The Legislature shall provide by law for defining and punishing barretry.

SEC. 30. The duration of all offices not fixed by this Constitution shall never exceed two years.

SEC. 31. The Legislature may pass laws prescribing the qualifications of practitioners of medicine in this State, and to punish persons for malpractice, but no preference shall ever be given by law to any schools of medicine.

SEC. 32. The Legislature may provide by law for the establishment of a board of health and vital statistics, under such rules and regulations as it may deem proper.

SEC. 33. The accounting officers of this State shall neither draw nor pay a warrant upon the treasury in favor of any person, for salary or compensation as agent, officer, or appointee who holds at the same time any other office or position of honor, trust, or profit, under this State or the United States, except as prescribed in this Constitution.

SEC. 34. The Legislature shall pass laws authorizing the governor to lease, or sell to the government of the United States, a sufficient quantity of the public domain of the State necessary for the erection of forts, barracks, arsenals, and military stations, or camps, and for other needful military purposes; and the action of the governor therein shall be subject to the approval of the Legislature.

SEC. 35. The Legislature shall, at its first session, pass laws to protect laborers on public buildings, streets, roads, railroads, canals, and other similar public works, against the failure of contractors and sub-contractors to pay their current wages when due, and to make the corporation, company or individual for whose benefit the work is done responsible for their ultimate payment.

SEC. 36. The Legislature shall, at its first session, provide for the payment, or funding, as they may deem best, of the amounts found to be justly due to the teachers in the public schools, by the State, for service rendered prior to the 1st day of July, 1878.

SEC. 37. Mechanics, artisans, and material men, of every class, shall have a lien upon the buildings and articles made or repaired by them for the value of their labor done thereon, or material furnished therefor, and the Legislature shall provide by law for the speedy and efficient enforcement of said liens.

SEC. 38. The Legislature may, at such time as the public interest may require, provide for the office of commissioner of insurance, statistics and history, whose term of office, duties and salary shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 39. The Legislature may, from time to time, make appropriations for preserving and perpetuating memorials of the history of Texas, by means of monuments, statues, paintings and documents of historical value.

SEC. 40. No person shall hold or exercise, at the same time, more than one civil office of emolument, except that of justice of the peace, county commissioner, notary public, and postmaster unless otherwise specially provided herein.

SEC. 41. Any person who shall, directly or indirectly, offer, give, or promise, any money or thing of value, testimonial, privilege or personal advantage, to any executive or judicial officer or member of the Legislature to influence him in the performance of any of his public or official duties, shall be guilty of bribery, and be punished in such manner as shall be provided by law. And any member of the Legislature, or executive or judicial officer who shall solicit, demand or receive, or consent to receive, directly or indirectly, for himself, or for another, from any company, corporation or person, any money, appointment, employment, testimonial, reward, thing of value or employment, or of personal advantage or promise thereof, for his vote or official influence, or for withholding the same, or with any understanding, expressed or implied, that his vote or official action shall be in any way influenced thereby, or who shall solicit, demand and receive any such money or other advantage, matter or thing aforesaid for another, as the consideration of his vote or official influence, in consideration of the payment or promise of such money, advantage, matter or thing to another, shall be held guilty of bribery, within the meaning of the Constitution, and shall incur the disabilities provided for said offenses, with a forfeiture of the office they may hold, and such other additional punishment as is or shall be provided by law.

SEC. 42. The Legislature may establish an inebriate asylum, for the cure of drunkenness and reform of inebriates.

SEC. 43. No man or set of men shall ever be exempted, relieved or discharged, from the performance of any public duty or service imposed by general law, by any special law. Exemptions from the performance of such public duty or service shall only be made by general law.

SEC. 44. The Legislature shall prescribe the duties and provide for the election by the qualified voters of each county in this State, of a county treasurer and a county surveyor, who shall have an office at the county seat, and hold their office for two years, and until their successors are qualified, and shall have such compensation as may be provided by law.

SEC. 45. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide for collecting, arranging and safety keeping such records, rolls, correspondence, and other documents, civil and military, relating to the history of Texas, as may be now in the possession of parties willing to confide them to the care and preservation of the State.

SEC. 46. The Legislature shall provide by law for organizing and disciplining the militia of the State, in such manner as they shall deem expedient, not incompatible with the constitution and laws of the United States.

SEC. 47. Any person who conscientiously scruples to bear arms, shall not be compelled to do so, but shall pay an equivalent for personal service.

SEC. 48. All laws and parts of laws now in force in the State of Texas, which are not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, or to this Constitution, shall continue and remain in force as laws of this State, until they expire by their own limitation or shall be amended or repealed by the Legislature.

SEC. 49. The Legislature shall have power, and it shall be its duty, to protect by law from forced sale a certain portion of the personal property of all heads of families, and also of unmarried adults, male and female.

SEC. 50. The homestead of a family shall be, and is hereby protected from forced sale, for the payment of all debts except for the purchase money thereof, or a part of such purchase money, the taxes due thereon, or for work and materials used in constructing improvements thereon, and in this last case only when the work and material are contracted for in writing, with the consent of the wife given in the same manner as is required in making a sale and conveyance of the homestead; nor shall the owner, if a married man, sell the homestead without the consent of the wife, given in such manner as may be prescribed by law. No mortgage, trust, deed, or other lien on the household shall ever be valid, except for the purchase money therefor, or improvements made thereon, as herein before provided, whether such mortgage, or trust deed, or other lien, shall have been created by the husband alone, or together with his wife; and all pretended sales of the homestead involving any condition of defeasance shall be void.

SEC. 51. The homestead, not in a town or city, shall consist of not more than two hundred acres of land, which may be in one or more parcels, with the improvements thereon; the homestead in a city, town, or village, shall consist of lot, or lots, not to exceed in value five thousand dollars, at the time of their designation as the homestead, without reference to the value of any improvements thereon; provided, that the same shall be used for the purposes of a home, or as a place to exercise the calling or business of the head of a family; provided, also, that any temporary renting of the homestead shall not change the character of the same, when no other homestead has been acquired.

SEC. 52. On the death of the husband or wife, or both, the homestead shall descend and vest in like manner as other real property of the deceased, and shall be governed by the same laws of descent and distribution, but it shall not be partitioned among the heirs of the deceased during the lifetime of the surviving husband and wife, or so long as the survivor may elect to use or occupy the same as a homestead, or so long as the guardian of the minor children of the deceased may be permitted, under the order of the proper court having the jurisdiction, to use and occupy the same.

SEC. 53. That no inconvenience may arise from the adoption of this Constitution, it is declared that all process and writs of all kinds which have been or may be issued and not returned or executed when this Constitution is adopted, shall remain valid, and shall not be, in any way, affected by the adoption of this Constitution.

SEC. 54. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide for the custody and maintenance of indigent lunatics, at the expense of the State, under such regulations and restrictions as the Legislature may prescribe.

SEC. 55. The Legislature may provide annual pensions, not to exceed one hundred and fifty dollars per annum, to surviving soldiers of volunteers in the war between Texas and Mexico, from the commencement of the revolution in 1845, until the 1st of January, 1837; and also to the surviving signers of the declaration of independence of Texas; and to the surviving widows continuing unmarried of such soldiers and signers; provided, that no such pension be granted except to those in indigent circumstances, proof of which shall be made, before the County Court of the county where the applicant resides, in such manner as may be provided by law.

SEC. 56. The Legislature shall have no power to appropriate any of the public money for the establishment and maintenance of a bureau of immigration, or for any purpose of bringing immigrants to this State.

SEC. 57. Three millions acres of the public domain are hereby appropriated and set apart for the purpose of erecting a new State capitol and other necessary public buildings at the seat of government, said lands to be sold under the direction of the Legislature; and the Legislature shall pass suitable laws to carry this section into effect.