North Texas Daily

Proposed Texas constitutional amendments explained

Proposed Texas constitutional amendments explained

Proposed Texas constitutional amendments explained
October 29
11:49 2021

Eight proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution will be on the ballot in the Constitutional Amendment and Joint General and Special Elections on Nov. 2.

Early voting started on Oct. 18 and will go until Oct. 29. Elections to vote on constitutional amendments are held every two years and normally have low attendance, according to university faculty.

“It’s pretty common for no one to show up,” said Gloria Cox, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. “Mostly, I would say Texans think that they can be disregarded.”

Political science junior Alejandro Castellanos said voting on amendments is an important part of democracy and encouraged people to go vote.

“I think state amendments seem less important than elections,” Castellanos said. “But they are the foundations that support our great state.”

Proposition One would allow rodeo charitable foundations to hold raffles at Texas rodeos. The proposed amendment would be expanding on legislation passed in 2015, which allowed charitable raffles to be held at professional sporting events.

Proposition Two would allow counties to issue bonds for the purpose of revitalizing transportation or infrastructure in areas that need it. This power already exists within the Texas constitution but currently does not apply to counties. The amendment is designed to “give counties the power that cities already have,” Cox said.

Proposition Three is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and would make state and local governments unable to prohibit or limit religious services.

Proposition Four increases the eligibility requirements for judges who want to run for the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and regional courts of appeal. Currently, those who want to run must have at least 10 years of experience as a practicing lawyer or a cumulative total of 10 years as a lawyer or judge of a court of record. The amendment would change the requirements so candidates must have been licensed to practice law in Texas for at least 10 years and during that time could not have had their license suspended or revoked.

The proposition would also increase the requirement for district judge candidates. Currently, these candidates must have at least four years of experience practicing law in Texas but the amendment would raise this requirement to eight years.

Proposition Five would extend the powers of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to include investigating those running for judicial offices. Currently, the commission can only investigate alleged misconduct of those already in office but this amendment would allow the commission to look into reports made against candidates as well.

Proposition Six is another amendment that “came out of the COVID thing,” Cox said. This amendment would allow residents of certain long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities the right to designate an essential caregiver who could not be denied in-person visitation.

Proposition Seven would allow the surviving spouse of a disabled person to maintain the same level of limited school district property taxes as long as the surviving spouse is at least 55 years of age and lives in the same residence. Currently, these exemptions already apply to surviving spouses at least 65 and older. This proposition would be adding constitutionality to a 2019 update to the Tax Code that aimed to do the same thing.

According to the League of Women Voters, some counties adhered to the Tax Code’s aforementioned update, while others did not. In the counties that did not follow the 2019 legislation, eligible surviving spouses may be due a refund.

“The counties are just divisions of the state,” Cox said. “I think we have a right to expect that every county will enforce the law in the same way.”

Proposition Eight would expand property tax exemptions to not only affect spouses of military personnel that died in action but also those who died in the line of duty. Currently, the surviving spouse of someone who died in combat is eligible for tax exemptions. This amendment would extend eligibility to surviving spouses of those whose deaths were not directly related to combat but were still as a result of military duties. The amendment would apply to less than 10 individuals a year, according to the House Research Organization.

University political science senior Grant Johnson said having informed voters is incredibly important in any election.

“Know the facts,” Johnson said. “You can listen to your party, you can listen to your conscience, […] but do your research above all else. Vote how you want to see your state be run.”

For information about where you can vote across the state, visit votetexas.gov. Election Day voting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all polling locations in Texas. Early voting hours vary at each polling place.

Featured Image: Signs stand outside of the Denton Civic Center on Oct. 25, 2021, encouraging people to vote. Photo by John Anderson

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