Texas Constitution Gets Polished Up

Get your best voting pens ready: 16 constitutional amendments head to the ballot this November.

The House Research Organization put out a list of all 16 constitutional amendments that will be appearing on the November 6 ballot papers. Before you get all excited about the possibility of some new rights (pants back on, nude hitch-hiker advocates of Texas) most of them are basically house-keeping and book-keeping.

First, there’s the money money money, and there’s a lot of bond issues on the table. All bonds have to be approved, and this year there’s a total of $9.75 billion waiting to be released. $500 million of that goes for student loans, so doesn’t actually count towards the state debt limit. Over half the rest – $5 billion – goes on road repairs; $3 billion for cancer research; $1 billion for state agency construction and repair projects; and a teeny-tiny-but-we’d-still-take-it $250 million for water and sewer services for economically distressed areas.
But while bonds may be going out, property taxes may, well, at least go up less. Prop. 3 would limit ad valorem tax hikes to 10% per annum, while Prop. 5 gives cities with less than 10,000 people the power to freeze taxes if they’re applying for certain development grants. Best of all is Prop. 10, which finally brings Texas’ rules on tax breaks for disabled veterans into line with Veteran’s Administration recommendations.

But for anyone looking for a change in the rules of governance, there’s always Prop. 11, written by Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas. This would automatically enter into the journal which way all reps and senators went on a record vote on a bill. This would replace the current system whereby it takes three legislators requesting it be recorded. Keeping track of how the lege votes? Now that’s crazy talk.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Elections, Legislature, Texas Constitution, Dan Branch

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