As you may know, during the last Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed seven provisions that would alter our State Constitution, and therefore require voter approval in order to become law.
Below is a brief analysis of each proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot in the upcoming election on Nov. 3. As a reminder, Early voting begins NEXT WEEK - Oct. 19 and runs through Oct. 30.
“The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.”
Proposition 1 would increase the residence homestead exemption for all homeowners from $15,000 to $25,000, including for seniors and disabled homeowners, while also prohibiting local taxing entities from removing any additional exemptions they also provided to homeowners. In addition, Proposition 1 would constitutionally prohibit a real estate transfer tax, or sales tax.
“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 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”
Proposition 2 would allow the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who would have qualified for an ad valorem tax exemption on all or part of the market value of the disabled veterans residence homestead, to be eligible for this exemption if their deceased spouse passed away on or before the original law took effect in 2009.
“The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.”
Currently, certain statewide elected officials, including the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Texas Commissioner of the General Land Office, the Texas Attorney General, the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and the Texas Railroad Commissioners, must reside in the Capital of Texas during the tenure of their office. Proposition 3 would repeal that requirement, allowing those aforementioned statewide officers to reside outside the City of Austin.
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.”
Section 47, Article III of the Texas Constitution, as originally adopted, requires the Legislature to enact laws prohibiting all lotteries and gift enterprises in the state, and is interpreted to prohibit the state from authorizing most forms of gambling. Since 1980, the Texas Constitution has been amended authorizing the Legislature to permit and regulate bingo and charitable raffles conducted by certain religious and nonprofit organizations. Proposition 2 would allow the Legislature to enact laws permitting the charitable foundations of professional sports teams to also conduct charitable raffles.
“The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.”
Currently, counties with a population of 5,000 or less have the authority to construct and maintain private roads in order to meet their infrastructure needs. Proposition 5 raises the existing population threshold by extending to its counties with a population of 7,500 or less.
“The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”
This proposition would establish the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in Texas as preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. The proposed amendment would not affect laws or regulations that relate to trespass, property rights, eminent domain or the municipal regulation of the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of safety. Twenty states have passed similar constitutional amendments recognizing their citizen’s rights to hunt and fish using traditional methods.
“The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for non-tolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”
This proposed amendment would constitutionally direct up to $2.5 billion annually, of state sales tax proceeds that reach over $28 billion, towards transportation projects from 2018 to 2032. Additionally, it would direct 35 percent of any motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax in excess of $5 billion to the state highway fund from 2020 to 2029. The Legislature would have the authority to reduce these deposits when necessary and could extend these dedications past their prescribed expirations. Once directed to the state highway fund, these funds could only be used to construct, maintain or acquire rights-of-way for roads other than toll roads, or to repay bonds issued by the Texas Transportation Commission.
For more information on each of the proposed constitutional amendments, including detailed arguments both “for” and “against,” the House Research Organization is a very helpful tool and provides detailed explanations of each for your convenience.
Again, please contact my office if we may be of service to you by calling 972-938-9392 or 512-463-0516, or email me at District10.Wray@house.state.tx.us.
State Rep. John Wray, R-Waxahachie, represents District 10 in the Texas Legislature, which includes Ellis County.