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Agency History

Agency History

The governor of Texas is the chief executive officer of the state, elected by the citizens every four years. The duties and responsibilities of the governor include serving as commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces; convening special sessions of the legislature for specific purposes; delivering to the legislature at the beginning of each regular session a report on the condition of the state, an accounting of all public money under the governor’s control, a recommended biennial budget, an estimate of the amounts of money required to be raised by taxation, and any recommendations he deems necessary; signing or vetoing bills passed by the legislature; and executing the laws of the state. The governor can grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons, upon the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and revoke conditional pardons. He appoints numerous state officials (with the consent of the senate), fills vacancies in state and district offices (except vacancies in the legislature), calls special elections to fill vacancies in the legislature, fills vacancies in the United States Senate until an election can be held, and serves as ex officio member of several state boards.

The office of governor was first established by the Constitution of 1845 and superseded the office of president of the Republic of Texas. The position now exists under authority of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of 1876 and Texas Government Code, Chapter 401. To be elected governor, a person must be at least 30 years old, a United States citizen, and a resident of Texas for at least five years preceding the election. In 1972, the term of office was extended from two to four years, effective in 1975. Since 1856 the governor has had the use of the Governor’s Mansion.

In 2014 there were 248.5 full time equivalent employees in the Office of the Governor. Nineteen divisions outside of the Executive Office assist the governor in carrying out his functions: Scheduling and Advance; Office of the First Lady; Administration; Appointments; Legislative; Communications; Budget, Planning, and Policy; General Counsel; Internal Audit; Constituent Communication; Criminal Justice; Economic Development and Tourist Development; Governor’s Commission for Women; Office of Financial Accountability; Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities; Texas Film Commission; Texas Music Office; Texas Workforce Investment Council; and Office of State-Federal Relations.

The Economic Development and Tourism Division originated in 2003, when several functions of the abolished Texas Department of Economic Development and Texas Aerospace Commission were transferred to a division under the Texas Governor’s Office (Senate Bill 275, 78th Legislature, Regular Session). The division encourages and pursues business expansion and attracts business relocation prospects for the state of Texas, with specific subordinate offices focusing on small businesses, military installations, and aerospace, aviation, and defense businesses. It operates the Texas Economic Development Bank, which provides financial incentives to businesses expanding or relocating to the state of Texas, and makes capital funds available to in-state businesses for economic development projects. Finally, the Division also promotes Texas as an attractive travel destination through a multimedia marketing campaign and strategic partnerships with convention and visitors bureaus, local chambers of commerce, private travel-related organizations, and associations.

(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th edition (2001); Office of the Governor Workforce Summary and the Texas Governor’s Office website during Governor Perry’s term via the TRAIL Web Archive, both accessed on May 6, 2020; and the records themselves.)

Department of Commerce/Department of Economic Development History

The 70th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, through House Bill 4, created the Texas Department of Commerce (TDOC) on September 1, 1987, by consolidating various state agencies, commissions, and boards including the Texas Economic Development Commission, Texas Tourist Development Agency, Texas World Trade Council, Enterprise Zone Board, Technology Training Board, Texas Music Commission, and Texas Film Commission. The Job Training Partnership Act and the Community Development Block Grant programs were also transferred to the department from the Texas Department of Community Affairs. In 1991, the 72nd Legislature reorganized the Department of Commerce through Senate Bill 1070. Policy-making functions and authority were redistributed between the executive director and the Department of Commerce Policy Board. The board was made an advisory board rather than a governing board. The Community Development Block Grant and Rental Rehabilitation programs were transferred to the newly created Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the film and music programs were transferred to the Governor’s Office.

The Department of Commerce was responsible for planning, organizing, and implementing programs to attract new businesses to the state, encourage the growth and expansion of existing businesses, including tourism, and work with local governments and organizations to improve their communities. The department was managed by the executive director and advised by the nine-member Department of Commerce Policy Board. Six seats on the board were held by public members appointed by the governor to six-year terms with the consent of the senate. The other three members, who serve ex-officio, were the chair of the State Job Training Coordinating Council, the presiding officer of the International Trade Commission Governing Board, and the presiding officer of the Trans-Mexico Authority Advisory Board. The 1991 reorganization divided the department into three program divisions (Business Development, Tourism, and Work Force Development), each administered by a deputy director, and six support divisions (Administration, Communications, Data Services, Human Resources, Intergovernmental Relations, and Research and Planning). As of 1992, the department had 318 employees and appropriations of $254,486,306.

As a follow-up to the 1991 reorganization, a sunset review was performed in 1993 which continued the Enterprise Zone Program and required the Commerce Department to establish an Office of Rural Affairs. In 1995, the Legislature transferred the Job Training Partnership Act program to the Texas Workforce Commission. In September 1997, the Texas Department of Commerce was reorganized again and renamed the Texas Department of Economic Development (TDED). The TDED was responsible for the same initiatives as the Department of Commerce, and the TDED Governing Board assuming virtually the same organization and duties as Commerce’s policy board. By the late 1990s the TDED had two main, non-support divisions: Business Development and Tourism. The Business Development Division concentrated on retaining and expanding the state’s business and industrial base and marketing Texas nationally and internationally as a location for business expansion; the division’s six offices are Business Services, Corporate Expansion and Recruitment, Economic Information Clearinghouse, Office of Trade and International Relations, the State of Texas Office in Mexico, and Strategic Initiatives. The Tourism Division promoted Texas nationally and internationally as a travel destination. In 2003, the TDED was abolished, and several functions were combined with those of the Texas Aerospace Commission to create the Texas Governor’s Office Economic Development and Tourism Division (Senate Bill 275, 78th Legislature, Regular Session).

(Sources include: “Texas Department of Commerce,” The Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 6, 2020; and Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions.)

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