Election: We look at both sides of the coming amendment election

October 23, 2017

On Tuesday, November 7 Texans will be voting on seven amendments to the Texas Constitution. Texas voters have approved 491 amendments to the state Constitution since its adoption in 1876, according to the Legislative Reference Library. As there are no offices up for election that day, Texans may be tempted to stay home and allow others to determine the outcome of these amendments. This is not a good idea. We each need to take an active role in our government processes.

The Brownfield News would like to give you a brief description of each proposed amendment and the pros and cons of each.

Proposition 1 – Homestead exemption for partially donated homes of disabled veterans
This would allow the Legislature to provide a partially disabled veteran a partial property tax exemption on a homestead that was donated at some cost to the veteran, in addition to those that were donated at no cost, as long as the homestead was donated for less than its market value.

Supporters say – This would fix an unintended consequence of current law that increases the financial burden on a partially disabled veteran who paid some amount of the cost of a donated home.

Opponents say – This would continue a pattern of giving tax exemptions to specialized groups, when instead the Legislature should focus its efforts on reducing the aggregated property tax burden.

Proposition 2 – Revising home equity loan provisions

Proposition 2 would revise the cap on fees that may be charged when making a home equity loan, allow the refinancing of home equity loans into non-home equity loans, revise a provision governing home equity lines of credit and amend the list of the types of approved lenders.

Supporters say – This would adjust the state’s home equity lending framework to help make loans more accessible, lower costs for borrowers, and give consumers more choice.

Opponents say – Proposition 2 could raise costs for borrowers and roll back important consumer protections.

Proposition 3 – Limiting terms for certain appointees of the governor

This would amend the Texas Constitution to create an exception to the requirement that state officers continue to perform their duties until their successors are duly qualified. The exception would apply to officers appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate who did not receive a salary.

Supporters say – This would address concerns about some gubernatorial appointees being held over in their positions long after their terms have expired.

Opponents say – This could result in important appointed offices remaining vacant if a successor had not been duly qualified within the time limits specified by the proposed amendment.

Proposition 4 – Court notice to attorney general of constitutional challenge to state laws
This would require courts to notify the attorney general when a party to litigation filed a petition, motion, or other pleading challenging the constitutionality of a state statue if the party notified the court of the challenge.

Supporters say – This would ensure that the state has an opportunity to defend Texas laws from constitutional challenges.

Opponents say – The Texas Constitution should not be amended to undermine the state’s separation of powers doctrine, which ensures that each branch of government may exercise.

The Legislature should not be authorized to enact laws that might erode the doctrine by establishing a period during which a court may not exercise its power.

Proposition 5 – Amending eligibility requirements for sports team charitable raffles
The would expand the number of professional sports team charitable foundations eligible to conduct charitable raffles.

Supporters say – The proposed amendment would allow teams to capitalize on the large and supportive crowds at sporting events to increase the funds available to support their charitable programs.

Opponents say – The state should be cautious about expanding the number of participants allowed to conduct charitable raffles. Prop 5 would expand gambling in Texas by increasing the number of sports team foundations that could conduct such raffles, which could prompt other groups to request the authority to offer them.

Proposition 6 – Homestead exemption for surviving spouses of certain first responders
This would allow the Legislature to give a partial or total homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of a first responder who was killed or fatally injured in the line of duty, provided the spouse had not remarried since the first responder’s death.

Supporters say – This would allow the Legislature to provide valuable tax relief to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty by extending to their surviving spouses the same well deserved property tax exemption currently given to surviving spouses of service members killed in action.

Opponents say – This would continue  a pattern of giving tax exemptions to specialized groups, when instead the Legislature should focus its efforts on reducing the aggregate property tax burden. This causes an increased burden on other homeowners.

Proposition 7 – Authorizing Legislature to allow banks to hold raffles promoting savings
This would allow the Legislature to permit credit unions and other financial institutions conduct promotional activities to encourage savings.

Supporters say – Savings incentives are needed in the state, as more than one-third of Texas households lack a savings account, and about half do not have a three-month emergency fund.

Opponents say – This would be a carve-out for one industry to conduct a raffle, which would be the only non-charitable raffle allowed in the state. The state should consider the equity of allowing a single industry to conduct such raffles.

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Category: Updates