My staff and I have prepared an analysis of the 2019 ballot propositions to help constituents better understand what you’re being asked to vote on. Terry Lowry recently published this analysis in his Link Letter, which you can read here: http://www.terrylowry.com/?page_id=987
Each of these items is a proposal to amend the Texas Constitution. You will mark “FOR” or “AGAINST” amending the Constitution.
Early Voting on these Constitutional Amendments runs from Monday, October 21 until Friday, November, 1. Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.
“The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
Texas law already permits a person to be appointed as a municipal judge in more than one municipality, but this amendment would extend that right to a person elected as a municipal judge. Many smaller cities do not have a municipal judge at all, which is vital to dealing with local cases. The passage of Proposition 1 will make it easier for smaller cities to have access to qualified municipal judges for these part-time positions.
“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.”
This amendment will allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue more general obligation bonds to develop water supply and sewer service projects in areas determined by the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP). EDAP currently provides financial assistance for projects to develop water services where facilities are inadequate to meet state standards.
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”
This amendment entitles an individual who owns property located in a declared disaster area to a temporary partial property tax exemption. Local taxing entities are currently allowed to provide these exemptions, yet several choose not to. Some Texans with badly-damaged homes had to pay property taxes as if their homes were worth their fully-appraised value. Many Texans who suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Harvey were treated unfairly by some taxing entities. Proposition 3 will require local taxing entities to provide these exemptions.
“The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”
This amendment will ban the creation and implementation of a state income tax. Passage of this proposition will make it significantly more difficult for future legislatures to attempt to pass a state income tax. A vote “FOR” Proposition 4 will amend the Constitution to ban a state income tax.
“The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use tax.”
This amendment will ensure that taxes that are already collected on sporting goods are fully allocated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. For years, taxes taken from the sale of sporting goods have not been allocated properly, and our parks and historical sites have suffered. Passage of Proposition 5 will ensure these Texas resources are properly funded to keep our Texas treasures protected for future generations.
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”
This amendment will increase the maximum amount of general obligation bonds the Texas Public Finance Authority may issue on behalf of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Texas has seen great strides in cancer treatments due to CPRIT loans in the past. The continued funding of CPRIT allows Texas to continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in ground-breaking cancer research.
“The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
This amendment will raise the cap on the amount of distributions from the General Land Office to the Available School Fund (ASF) from $300 million per year to $600 million per year. Due to an unusually high rate of return, recent investments realized by the land board would have allowed greater contributions to the ASF, were it not for the $300 million per year cap. A vote for Proposition 7 will improve funding for Texas public schools.
“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”
This amendment will establish the Flood Infrastructure Fund, which will institute regional planning and coordination on flood mitigation projects to attempt to better provide for vital infrastructure in the state; whereas, counties currently handle it on their own. For example, because much of Harris County’s water in creeks and reservoirs comes from other counties, where Harris County does not have jurisdiction, regional flood planning is a critical necessity.
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
Allowing for a property tax exemption for precious metals held in a depository will encourage a higher volume of businesses specializing in precious metals to bring more of their industry to Texas, helping the Texas economy.
“The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
This amendment will allow a retired law enforcement animal to be transferred to that animal’s handler at the time of retirement. Currently, it is illegal to transfer these search-and-rescue and drug-sniffing dogs to an individual. Instead, these animals must be auctioned off. Proposition 10 will allow these animals to enjoy their well-deserved retirement with their beloved handlers instead of with strangers.