Constitutional Amendments Ballot – November 3, 2015

There is an election coming up in November that is important for you to consider. Though there are no state officials on the ballot, there will be seven proposed constitutional amendments to be considered. Please read the following article to learn more about each proposal.
November 2015 Constitutional
Amendment Election

The Texas Constitution has been amended 484 times since its adoption in 1876.
On November 3, 2015, Texas citizens will have the opportunity to add an additional seven amendments to the document. In order to qualify for the ballot, each proposal passed both chambers of the Texas Legislature by at least a 2/3 vote. They now must be approved by a majority of the voters to go into effect.

A short synopsis of each proposal is below. See a more in-depth analysis of each item here.

Proposition 1:  Proposes an increase in the constitutionally mandatory homestead tax exemption for school districts from $15,000 to $25,000. Additionally, it would allow the Legislature to prohibit the reduction or elimination of optional homestead exemptions established by non-school district taxing entities and would prohibit the enactment of a real estate transfer tax.

  • Pro: Supporters say this change would give property owners some necessary relief from their ever-increasing tax liability.
  • Con: Opponents believe the tax relief is minor and the reimbursement of the lost revenue by the state will result in little, if any, benefit to many homeowners.
Proposition 2: Proposes to amend the Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide a homestead exemption to the surviving spouses of 100 percent or totally disabled veterans who would have qualified for the exemption if it had been available to them when they died.
  • Pros: Supporters say the change would put an end to the two classes of surviving spouses created under current law and treat all surviving spouses the same regardless of the date of death of a totally disabled veteran.
  • Cons: Opponents fear this practice could reduce tax money exponentially, causing the government to be lacking necessary funds for other projects.
Proposition 3: Proposes to change the constitutional requirement that all Texas Government Officials reside in Austin.
  • Pros: Supporters say that with changes in transportation and technology statewide elected officials no longer have to be present in Austin in order to perform their duties. Current limitations even prohibit an elected official from living in the suburbs of Austin.
  • Cons: Opponents point out that current policy has been in effect for 140 years without problems. All statewide elected officials know of the requirement prior to election and should be willing to live in Austin as a condition of their service. Statewide officeholders should be present in their offices daily to be accessible to their staff and constituents.
Proposition 4:  Proposes to amend the Constitution to authorize the Legislature to enact laws to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.
  • Pros: Supporters believe this opportunity would increase the funds pro sports teams are able to donate to charities and do some good for the community outside the stadium.
  • Cons: Opponents of the proposal do so for reasons ranging from the argument that the practice would increase gambling in the state to an objection that the proposal is too narrow and does not go far enough in allowing anyone to have a raffle.
Proposition 5:  Would propose to raise the constitutional population cap from 5,000 to 7,500 for a county to  begin maintaining private roads.
  • Pros: The supporters of this proposal believe that since the overall population of Texas is growing, even some of the the smallest counties are larger than 5,000. Some counties that qualified when the provision was inserted in the Constitution in 1980 no longer qualify due to an increase in population. Population caps are necessary to prevent competition with private industry.
  • Cons: Opponents believe there should be no constitutional population cap. Any county should be able to maintain a road as long as the private owner agrees and pays for the service.
Proposition 6:  This proposal would amend the Constitution to guarantee the right of Texans to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. The right would be subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
  • Pros: Supporters believe this amendment would seek to protect Texan’s right to hunt, fish, and tag more animals, which in return would also aid in the overpopulation of certain animals.
  • Cons: Opponents consider this amendment as vague and worry that it will be a causeway for inhumane methods of hunting game.
Proposition 7: This proposed constitutional amendment would dedicate 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.
  • Pros: Supporters believe that a constant dedicated stream of revenue for road construction will help to fund our urgent transportation needs. There is a provision for a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to lower the set aside in times of economic downturn.
  • Cons: Opponents are concerned that the dedication of $5 billion to transportation will further limit the choices legislators have to address pressing economic needs. Currently, the Legislature has control of only about 17 percent of the state budget for discretionary purposes. The additional dedication would reduce that even further.

The proposed amendments, if passed, will take effect on January 1, 2016.

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