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Local Government

Texas has 254 counties, a number which has not changed since 1931 when Loving County was organized. Loving County had a population of 82 according to the 2010 U.S. census, compared with 164 in 1970 and a peak of 285 in 1940. It is the least-populous county in Texas. In contrast, Harris County has the most residents, with a 2010 population of 4,092,459.

Loving County Courthouse

Loving County Courthouse. Photo by Robert Plocheck.

Counties range in area from Rockwall's 148.7 square miles to the 6,192.3 square miles in Brewster, which is equal to the combined area of the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The Texas Constitution makes a county a legal subdivision of the state. Each county has a commissioners court. It consists of four commissioners, each elected from a commissioner's precinct, and a county judge elected from the entire county. In smaller counties, the county judge retains judicial responsibilities in probate and insanity cases.

There are 1,216 incorporated Texas municipalities ranging in size from 18 residents in Los Ybanez to Houston's 2,331,354, according to the 2016 population estimates of the Texas State Data Center. More than 80 percent of the state's population lives in cities and towns meeting the U.S. Census Bureau definition of urban areas.

Texas had 354 incorporated cities with more than 5,000 population, according to the state data center. Under law, these cities may adopt their own charters (called home rule) by a majority vote. Cities of less than 5,000 may be chartered only under the general law.

• Local Option Alcohol: Map by Counties


Sam Houston portrait

Sam Houston.


State Government

Texas state government is divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches under the Texas Constitution adopted in 1876.

The chief executive is the governor, whose term is for four years. Other elected state officials with executive responsibilities include the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the General Land Office and commissioner of agriculture. The terms of those officials are also four years.

The secretary of state and the commissioner of education are appointed by the governor.
Except for making numerous appointments and calling special sessions of the Legislature, the governor’s powers are limited in comparison with those in most states.

State Senate Districts small

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The Texas Legislature has 181 members: 31 in the Senate, who are elected to four-year overlapping terms, and 150 in the House of Representatives, who are elected to two-year terms. Regular sessions convene on the second Tuesday of January in odd-numbered years, but the governor may call special sessions. Article III of the Texas Constitution deals with the legislative branch.

The judiciary of the state consists of nine members of the State Supreme Court; nine members of the Court of Criminal Appeals; 80 of the courts of appeals; 443 of the state district courts, including 13 criminal district courts; 494 county court judges; 821 justices of the peace; and 1,412 municipal courts judges.

Texas State House Districts small

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In addition to its system of formal courts, the State of Texas has established 17 Alternative Dispute Resolution Centers. The centers help ease the caseload of Texas courts by using mediation, arbitration, negotiation and moderated settlement conferences to handle disputes without resorting to more costly, time-consuming court actions.

Centers are located in Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Bryan, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Kerrville, Lubbock, Paris, Richmond, San Antonio and Waco.

Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and courts of appeals are elected to 6-year, overlapping terms. District court judges are elected to 4-year terms. 

• State Government Budget

• State Tax Collections

• Texas Prisons



Federal Government

The Money Factory in Fort Worth

There is $7 billion under a big pyramid near Blue Mound, Texas.

Digging to it will not work though, because the cash is stashed in a large vault with walls so thick that when they were built in 1990 there was no concrete to be had in all of Dallas-Fort Worth for the following three days, or so the story goes.

The bills, mostly $20s, $10s, $5s and $1s, are at the only money factory outside Washington, D.C.

The glass pyramid, a motif taken from the greenback, is atop the entrance to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western Currency Facility. The gray and white building on the prairie in northwest Fort Worth feels and looks as crisp as a new dollar bill and it smells like money.

Ten printing presses produce around three million notes a year, which is one-third the volume of the D.C. plant. Plans are for this second U.S. plant to do about one-half the volume of the main D.C. plant. . . . 


• Texas Congressional delegation

• Federal Courts in Texas

• Major U.S. Military Installations in Texas


Federal Funds to Counties

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IRS tax collections in Texas by year
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Texas Almanac

Texas Almanac