Voters to Decide Nine Proposed Constitutional Amendments

October 31, 2013 by  


houstonIn addition to local and municipal races in many areas of the state, voters statewide will decide the fate of nine proposed constitutional amendments to the Texas Constitution in a statewide election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. And, the balloting will be the first time the state incorporates its new voter ID rules. Early voting for the upcoming election began Monday and concluded on Friday, Nov. 1.

Before a voter can cast a ballot in that election, he or she must show one of seven forms of approved identification. They include a Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a DPS-issued personal identification card, a DPS-issued concealed handgun license, a U.S. military ID card with photo, a U.S. citizenship certificate with photo or a U.S. passport.

Although there are nine proposed amendments to be decided, one – Proposition 6 – has been getting most of the attention. The proposed amendment would create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas. If approved by voters, the Texas Legislature has already provided a mechanism for funding – authorizing a one-time $2 billion investment from the state’s rainy day fund. Those funds would allow for financing of local water projects that are part of the 2012 State Water Plan through affordable bonding.

Among these projects that are part of the state plan are conservation and reuse projects, desalination projects, new pipelines, reservoirs and more. Officials are hopeful the $2 billion from the rainy day fund will provide a continuing revenue source for water projects as loans are paid back. These funds will be managed by the Texas Water Development Board.

The remaining proposed amendments include:

Proposition One – Providing a tax exemption for all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse or a member of the U.S. military who was killed in action.

Proposition Two – Eliminates a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is currently in operation.

Proposition Three – Allows the governing body of a political entity such as a municipality, county, etc. to extend the date by which aircraft parts held by a business in the state as exempt from property tax as “Freeport goods” must be transported outside the state to retain their tax-exempt status.

Proposition Four – Allows for a tax exemption on part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or his or her surviving spouse if the residence was donated to the veteran by a charitable organization.

Proposition Five – Authorizes reverse mortgage advances to be used to purchase a homestead the borrower will use as his or her primary residence and expands the conditions under which a lender may require repayment to include failure to occupy the homestead within the period specified in the agreement.

Proposition Seven – Allows a home-rule municipality to include in its charter how to fill a vacancy on its governing body for an unexpired term of 12 months or less.
Proposition Eight – Allows repeal of a part of the constitution that allows for creating a hospital district in Hidalgo County because of the restriction on the limitation of the property tax rate that can be imposed.

Proposition Nine – Would expand the types of sanctions that can be assessed by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on a judge or justice, including public admonition, warning, reprimand or mandatory training or education in addition to punitive sanctions.

An analysis of each of the proposed amendments is provided by the Texas Legislative Council (see: http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/pubsconamend/analyses13/analyses13.pdf)
NEXT WEEK: On Nov. 5, voters also will decide more than $5.2 billion in bond issues for cities, counties, school district and other taxing entities.

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