Texas Law & Legislation
There are multiple sources of Texas law.
- The state constitution is the governing document for Texas government.
- Statutes are the laws enacted by the state legislature.
- Administrative rules are regulations created by state agencies.
- Case law is the body of judicial decisions from the courts.
- Attorney general opinions are persuasive but non-binding interpretations of the law from the attorney general.
- Local ordinances are enacted by municipalities and counties at the local level.
- Building codes are technical codes incorporated as law by statutes, administrative rules, and local ordinances.
Access and learn more about these sources of law below. If you have questions about researching Texas laws, you can Ask a Librarian for help.
The state constitution establishes the structure and purpose of the Texas government.
It is organized by articles. The first article sets out a bill of rights, and then the following articles establish the three branches of government — legislative, executive, and judicial. The remaining articles cover many other topics such as suffrage, public education, taxation, counties and municipalities, public lands, impeachment, and other general provisions, including modes of amending the constitution.
The Texas statutes are the collection of laws enacted by the state legislature.
Statutes are later organized by subject matter codes such as the Election Code, Family Code, Penal Code, etc.
Statutes give state agencies the authority to create regulations to help carry out the law.
Agency regulations are adopted according to the procedures set out by the Administrative Procedure Act. Generally, a state agency proposes a regulation by publishing it in the Texas Register and allowing for public comment. Once adopted, agency regulations are compiled by the secretary of state, resulting in the Administrative Code.
The Texas Administrative Code is organized by title. There are 17 titles. It is updated annually.
Case law is derived from past decisions made by the courts.
The Texas court system is made up of municipal courts, justice courts (justice of the peace), county courts, district courts, and courts of appeal.
At the highest level, the supreme court hears civil cases and the court of criminal appeals hears criminal cases.
Upon request from certain officials, the attorney general issues interpretations of state law. While considered persuasive, these opinions are not binding.
Statutes give municipalities authority to enact ordinances within their jurisdiction. These ordinances are usually enforced by local law enforcement agencies such as city police departments.
A county's authority to enact ordinances is generally more limited than that of a municipality. Some statutes grant counties the power to enact ordinances, but only for specific purposes.
State law and local ordinances incorporate technical codes by reference. This means they adopt a technical code as law, but they refer you to a specific publisher and edition for the full text.