The 10 Proposed Amendments Explained

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With election day starting on November 5, Texas residents will get to vote on which newly proposed amendment will be implemented into the Texas Constitution. There will be a total of 10 amendments being proposed, and each one will need at least two-thirds of support from the Texas House, Senate and the majority voters. In 2017, the seven amendments that were being proposed at the time, had 19.4 passing point margin by the voters.

The 10 amendments consist of different ideas such as school funding, taxes and animals. Here are what they consist of:

Proposition #1: Municipal Judges

Texas Constitution (Article 16, Section 40) prohibits a person from holding more than one public office at the same time, excluding the positions of county commissioner, justice of peace, notary public, postmaster, etc. This proposition wants to add the position of municipal judge to that list of exceptions. Proposition 1 would allow municipal judges to hold more than one paid public office at the same time, meaning they could simultaneously preside over multiple municipalities, regardless of whether they were appointed or elected.

The argument behind this in a nutshell, is that it would make it easier in the legal process to obtain certain legal documents and proceed legal endeavours. The argument against this, municipal judge that doesn't understand the territory they are dealing with the legal situation in, could possibly alter their decision making abilities.

Proposition #2: Water Projects in Distressed Areas

The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.

The summary of this proposition is that the amount given to the communities cannot exceed the outstanding budget which is limited by $200 million, and the median income is less than 75% of the states median income. The argument for this is that all citizens deserve clean water, and the financing this way would be easier for the economy and put less strain on the state. However, the argument against this is the fact that this is not a state issue, and the net impact would be up to $3.375 million on general revenue.

Proposition #3: Tax Relief for Disaster Areas

The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.

To sum it up, the Texas Legislation would give a temporary property tax exemption in governor declared disaster areas, and the exemption percentage would either be 15%, 30%, 60% or 100% depending on the amount of property damage. The argument for this prop would be that its will be quick and easy to give those affected relief. Yet, the argument against is that the situation would have to undergo an extensive reappraisal process.

Proposition #4: Personal Income Tax

Prop 4 would prohibit the Texas Legislature from establishing a personal state income tax.

The argument for this is that Texas has a low-tax, pro-growth approach to economic expansion, and that is dependent on having no personal income tax, along with supporting population growth in Texas, as families and businesses may move to Texas because there is no state income tax. Arguments against, include that this amendment is not necessary because the Texas Constitution now prohibits the Legislature from imposing an income tax without a statewide referendum (Art. 8, Sec. 24, adopted in 1993). In addition, any net revenue from that tax must be used for the support of education.

Proposition #5: Sporting Goods Taxes to Support State Parks

Prop 5 would require the Legislature to allocate the money raised from state sales taxes on sporting goods (i.e., hunting, fishing, outdoor equipment) to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

Arguments for, state and local parks are essential to industries such as fishing, hunting, and tourism that benefit Texas economy, this prop would require the government to support this vital economic sector more fully. It would allow these agencies to make long range plans based on a reliable funding source. Arguments against, is dedicated accounts can cause unnecessary growth of the state budget by demanding funds in one area even though needs could be greater in another.

Proposition #6: Cancer Prevention Research

The proposed amendment would increase the maximum bond amount for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) from $3 billion to $6 billion.

Arguments for this prop is the state is the second largest source of public funding for cancer research in Texas, behind the federal government. Increasing the bond amount would ensure that the state maintained its status as a hub for advancements in the cancer field, and continue Texas’ national leadership in cancer research and prevention. Arguments against, Current funding of CPRIT is in place until 2022, so the issue is not an urgent matter. Voters may not want to consider it right now—three years in advance.

Proposition #7: Funding Public Education

This proposition would increase from $300 million to $600 million the amount the General Land Office could distribute to the Available School Fund each year.

Arguments for this prop include, improving funding for public schools by doubling the distribution from the School Land Board to the Available School Fund, and more money is available to school districts from the state Available School Fund, they should need to rely less on local property taxes. Arguments against, is that both the School Land Board and the State Board of Education have responsibilities for managing the Permanent School Fund. If the School Land Board makes larger deposits directly to the Available School Fund rather than into the Permanent School Fund, it changes the amount the State Board of Education is required to distribute from the Permanent School fund.

Proposition #8: Flood Control

This prop would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) as a special fund outside of general revenue. A one-time distribution from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the “rainy day fund,” would establish the FIF. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) would distribute FIF funds to local governments through loans or, in some cases, as grants.The money would be used to establish and maintain flood control structures and drainage infrastructure throughout the state, especially in economically distressed areas.

Arguments for this prop include, severe flooding events such as Hurricane Harvey show the necessity of being prepared to prevent future damage. Arguments against, is that historically, state government has not played a heavy role in funding flood-control infrastructure. Flood control is the responsibility of both local and federal governments, rather than state government.

Proposition #9: Tax Exemption of Precious Metals

Proposition 9 would exempt from taxation precious metals held in a precious metal depository in the state.

Arguments for this proposition, is that other states do not tax precious metals, so creating this exemption would allow Texas depositories to be more competitive. Arguments against, include Texas counties do not enforce the property tax on precious metals, so a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.

Proposition #10: Law Enforcement Animals

Proposition 10 would allow law enforcement animals to retire, and their former handlers or other qualified caretakers to adopt them with no fee.

Arguments for this prop, is that it would ensure the wellbeing of law enforcement animals in their later years by allowing them to retire. Arguments against, is that it may reduce state income. A government auction might raise more money than the free adoption of a law enforcement animal.

For more information on these propositions, you can visit https://my.lwv.org/texas/election-information.

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