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Texas Constitution Gets Polished Up

The House Research Organization put out a list www.hro.house.state.tx.us/focus/amend80.pdf of all 16 constitutional amendments that will be appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot papers. Before you get all excited about the possibility of some new rights (pants back on, nude hitchhiker advocates of Texas) most of them are basically housekeeping and bookkeeping.

First, there's the money money money, and there are many 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 to student loans, so it actually doesn't count toward the state debt limit. More than half of the rest – $5 billion – goes to road repairs, $3 billion to cancer research, $1 billion to state agency construction and repair projects, and a teeny-tiny-but-we'd-still-take-it $250 million to water and sewer services for economically distressed areas.

But while bonds may be going out, property taxes may, well, at least go up less. Proposition 3 would limit ad valorem tax hikes to 10% per annum, while Proposition 5 gives cities with fewer than 10,000 people the power to freeze taxes if they're applying for certain development grants. Best of all is Proposition 10, which finally brings Texas' rules on tax breaks for disabled veterans into line with Veterans 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 automatically would 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.

Posted Wed., Sept. 5, at austinchronicle.com/chronic.

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