Here's What's on the Nov. 5 Ballot in Austin
A quick guide to the propositions you'll be yea-ing or nay-ing
By Sarah Marloff and Mike Clark-Madison,
3:25PM, Fri. Oct. 11, 2019
While most everyone's energies have been focused on the upcoming March 2020 primaries, there's still another election to get through before then. The Nov. 5 election will determine the future of various propositions and constitutional amendments for the city, county, and state.register to vote for this election has passed; however, there’s still time to get on the books for the spring primaries.) This election, Travis County is debuting a new voting system that helps create a paper trail of your digitally cast vote. (If new things make your nervous, scroll to the bottom of this story for a video explaining the new system.)
Below you'll find a rundown of what to expect on the Nov. 5 ballot. Look for our endorsements in the Oct. 25 issue.
What’s on the Ballot: Austin
Proposition A, a citizen initiative, seeks to require a City Council supermajority and voter approval for the use of city-owned land for any sports or entertainment facility – such as the 21,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium under construction now at McKalla Place. This would include the sale, transfer, or lease of city land, as well as any grants for site development permits. Voting “Yes” is a vote in favor of these requirements.
Proposition B, another citizen initiative that calls for a cap of 34% on how much of Austin's Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) can be allocated toward expanding the Neal W. Kocurek Austin Convention Center, and sets forth how to reallocate remaining HOT funds. It also requires voter approval for all Convention Center improvements totaling more than $20 million.
What’s on the Ballot: Travis County
Prop A would authorize the county to collect a 2-cent Hotel Occupancy Tax on room rentals to fund the planned redevelopment of the Travis County Exposition Center in far East Austin. Right now, the county collects no HOT; if this passes, it would only apply outside the Austin city limits, since the city – for now – already collects the maximum HOT allowed by state law. That may change in the future.
What’s on the Ballot: State
As is customary in odd-numbered years – the November elections following sessions of the Texas Legislature – Texas voters have been asked by lawmakers to amend the state Constitution in various ways. This year, there are 10 measures. If approved:
Prop 1 would allow elected municipal judges to serve in more than one city at the same time. (Appointed municipal judges can already do this.)
Prop 2 would allow the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to issue up to $200 million in bonds to fund water and sewer projects in economically distressed areas. (This program already exists but needs more funds to continue.)
Prop 3 would allow the Legislature to temporarily exempt from property tax properties damaged in disasters, according to rules to be created by lawmakers in the future.
Prop 4 would prohibit the state from imposing or collecting an individual income tax. (This has been a third-rail issue in Texas politics for decades, and the Legislature wants to make sure it stays that way.)
Prop 5 would automatically appropriate the state’s sales taxes on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Historical Commission to provide a dedicated funding stream for parks and historic sites. Currently this revenue goes into the state’s general fund; the Legislature would still prescribe how this money is used (and shared between the two agencies) in each biennial budget.
Prop 6 would extend the life of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) – created by an earlier amendment in 2007 – by increasing the bond funding available to the agency to $6 billion. (CPRIT, which survived a major scandal in 2011, has largely spent its original $3 billion in funding.)
Prop 7 would allow up to $600 million a year in proceeds from the Permanent School Fund (the revenue from the state’s land and investments) to be distributed annually to schools. This doubles the current constitutional maximum of $300 million.
Prop 8 would create a special flood infrastructure fund for TWDB to use to finance local projects – as it does now with drinking water supply projects (see Proposition 2). Revenues from the state rainy day fund, appropriately enough, would flow into this new fund.
Prop 9 would allow the Legislature to exempt precious metals held in a Texas depository from property taxes. There is, in fact, a state-run vault where you can store your gold and silver, open for business since 2018. (texasbulliondepository.gov)
Prop 10 would allow police dogs (or any “law enforcement animals”) to be transferred to their handlers or others – for example, upon their retirement – at no cost. Right now, since such animals are considered public property, state and local agencies are not allowed to give them away.
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