Thursday, December 2, 2021

Parker: What’s on Texas’ November constitutional amendment elections ballot

On any typical odd-numbered year, two significant occasions occur in Texas regarding the state government: The Texas Legislature convenes in January for a 140-day regular session and the state’s constitutional amendment election occurs in November.  While this year is a little different with three subsequent special sessions, we continue to look to what is ahead for voters to consider as part of the November 2 Constitutional Election.

First, in order for any proposition to become an amendment to our Texas Constitution, it must receive a super majority, or two-thirds of the vote in each chamber of the legislature. That equates to 100 members in the Texas House and 21 members of the Texas Senate.  Next, propositions must be approved by voters to become part of our state’s constitution.  During the legislative process earlier this year, over 200 joint resolutions to amend our Texas Constitution were proposed.  In all, eight were ultimately passed and have become propositions for Texas voters to consider on November 2.

It is imperative for everyone to remember that constitutional elections provide an important and unique way for citizens to have direct input into the governing process.  Therefore, I strongly feel it is crucial that the citizens of Texas voice their opinions during this election as they have done previously on measures related to curbing lawsuit abuse, increasing transparency in government, providing for transportation dollars, improving higher education, and even conducting cancer research.

For this election, Texans will be able to consider the following proposed constitutional amendments that are reflective of many areas of public policy. Here is a brief summary of each of them:

Proposition Number 1:“The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Prop 1 proposes a constitutional amendment expanding the circumstances in which a professional sports team charitable foundation may conduct raffles to raise money for the foundation’s charitable purposes. The proposed amendment would allow professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to hold charitable raffles at rodeo events.

Proposition Number 2: “The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

Prop 2 proposes a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to authorize a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area within the county and to pledge for repayment of those bonds or notes increases in property tax revenues imposed on property in the area by the county. The Texas Constitution gives the legislature the power to authorize an incorporated city or town to issue such bonds or notes but does not expressly give the legislature the power to grant that same authority to counties. The proposed amendment also provides that a county that issues bonds or notes for transportation improvements may not pledge for the repayment of those bonds or notes more than 65 percent of the increases in ad valorem tax revenues each year, and a county may not use proceeds from the bonds or notes to finance the construction, operation, maintenance, or acquisition of rights-of-way of a toll road.

Proposition Number 3: “The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

Prop 3 proposes a constitutional amendment barring the State of Texas or a political subdivision from enacting, adopting, or issuing a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services. The proposed amendment would apply to religious services, including those conducted in churches, congregations, and places of worship, in the state by a religious organization established to support and serve the propagation of a sincerely held religious belief.

Proposition Number 4: “The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

Prop 4 proposes a constitutional amendment changing certain eligibility requirements for a justice of the Supreme Court, a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge. The proposed amendment provides that a person is eligible to serve on the Supreme Court if the person, among other qualifications, is licensed to practice law in Texas; is a resident of Texas at the time of election; has been either a practicing lawyer licensed in Texas for at least ten years or a practicing lawyer licensed in Texas and a judge of a state court or county court established by the legislature for a combined total of at least ten years; and during that time has not had the person’s license to practice law revoked, suspended, or subject to a probated suspension. The same eligibility requirements would apply to a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals and to a justice of a court of appeals. The proposed amendment further provides that to be eligible for appointment or election as a district judge, a person must be a resident of Texas; be licensed to practice law in Texas; and have been a practicing lawyer or a judge of a court in Texas, or both combined, for eight years preceding the person’s election, during which time the person’s license to practice law has not been revoked, suspended, or subject to a probated suspension.

Proposition Number 5: “The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Prop 5 proposes a constitutional amendment allowing the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) to accept complaints or reports, conduct investigations, and take any other authorized action with respect to a candidate for a state judicial office. Currently, the Texas Constitution only permits the SCJC to take such actions as to persons holding a judicial office.

Proposition Number 6: “The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Prop 6 proposes a constitutional amendment establishing that residents of certain facilities have the right to designate an essential caregiver with whom the facility may not prohibit in-person visitation. The proposed amendment would apply to a nursing facility, assisted living facility, intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual disability, residence providing home and community-based services, or state supported living center. The proposed amendment also would authorize the legislature to provide guidelines for these facilities to follow in establishing essential caregiver visitation policies and procedures.

Proposition Number 7: “The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Prop 7 proposes a constitutional amendment permitting a person who is 55 years of age or older at the time of death of their spouse who is receiving a limitation on school district property taxes on their residence homestead on the basis of a disability to continue receiving the limitation while the property remains the surviving spouse’s residence homestead.

Proposition Number 8: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

Prop 8 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed services who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. The Texas Constitution provides a property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services who is killed in action, but the current exemption does not include members of the military who die during their service due to injuries sustained that are not combat-related.

Your participation in this upcoming constitutional amendment election is very important, and I encourage you to exercise your voting right on November 2. The decisions made on each of these propositions will have a lasting impact on you, your family and the entire state of Texas. For more information on voting locations as well as important Election Day information, please visit www.votetexas.gov.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives, and I welcome your feedback. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at 512.463.0688 or by email at [email protected].

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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