Early voting begins Monday on nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Constitutional elections traditionally draw less than 10 percent of registered voters to the polls. But the changes being proposed could have widespread effects on Texas in the future.
Below you’ll find the Secretary of State's explanation of each of the Joint Resolutions passed in the House and Senate that created the amendment propositions, along with the ballot language you’ll see when voting. We’ve also included links to groups for or against passage on individual propositions, if there are any.
HJR 62 proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to provide by statute 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 member of the United States armed services who is killed in action, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried. An eligible spouse who later qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse’s residence homestead could be authorized by statute to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation in the same amount received for the first qualifying homestead during the last year in which the surviving spouse received the exemption.
Ballot Language: "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 member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action."
Military groups support the proposition. There is no organized opposition.
HJR 79 proposes a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision requiring the creation of a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is in operation. No new loans have been made from the fund by the board in more than 25 years, and the board currently has no appointees and receives no program funding.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational."
There is no organized opposition or support of the proposition.
HJR 133 would authorize local political subdivisions to extend the length of time that aircraft parts could remain temporarily in this state before being subject to ad valorem taxation. Under current law, merchandise, wares, and goods (including aircraft parts) may remain in this state temporarily for up to 175 days before being subject to ad valorem taxation; the proposed amendment would permit taxing entities to extend the exemption up to 730 days after the date that a person acquired or imported aircraft parts in the state.
Ballot Language: "The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption."
There is no organized support of opposition to the proposition.
HJR 24 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran at no cost to the veteran by a charitable organization.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.”
Military groups support the proposition. There is no organized opposition.
SJR 18 would amend the definition of “reverse mortgage” to authorize the making of reverse mortgage loans for the purchase of homestead property in addition to the current legal uses of those loans, and would give lenders recourse against borrowers who fail to timely occupy the homestead properties purchased with such loans. SJR 18 would also add to the definition of “reverse mortgage” an extension of credit that is not closed before the 12th day after the lender provides to the prospective borrower a written notice summarizing risks and conditions of a reverse mortgage. The language of the required notice is prescribed in the resolution.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.”
Multiple newspapers' editorial boards have expressed support for this amendment. The only organized support is from Texans for Proposition 5, a group backed by mortgage companies and other real estate groups.
SJR 1 would create the State Water Implementation Fund as a special fund inside the state treasury and outside the General Revenue Fund. Money in the fund would be administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and would be used to implement the state water plan, as adopted by general law, by TWDB.
Ballot Language: "The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources."
A long list of business groups, municipalities and lawmakers, including Governor Rick Perry, have voiced strong support for passage of Prop 6. Here’s just a sampling of the groups in favor:
There is also vocal opposition from a group called Nix Prop 6.
HJR 87 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow home-rule municipalities to adopt charter provisions authorizing the filling of vacancies in the governing body by appointment, but only when the remainder of the vacant term is less than 12 months. Under current law, municipal voters may adopt terms of office for municipal officers longer than two years, but upon approving longer terms of office, any resulting vacancies in office must be filled by special election. The proposed amendment would provide an option for home-rule municipalities to fill short-term vacancies through appointment.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.”
There is no organized opposition or support for the proposition.
HJR 147 would repeal the Texas Constitution’s maximum tax rate for a Hidalgo County hospital district; the maximum rate is currently set at 10 cents per $100 valuation. This rate is lower than the maximum tax rate allowable for hospital districts in all other counties in the State (75 cents per $100 valuation). The repeal of the constitutional cap would authorize hospital district tax rates in Hidalgo County equal to the hospital district tax rate laws applicable to all other Texas counties.
Ballot Language: "The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County."
This proposition is one of those interesting quirks of the Texas constitution. It’s a vote that will only affect Hidalgo County healthcare and taxpayers. But the whole state gets to vote on it anyway.
The HJR received unanimous support in the Texas Legislature. But people opposed to tax increases have been popping up from time to time on Twitter to voice opposition.
SJR 42 would expand the potential sanctions that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can issue following a formal proceeding. This constitutional amendment would allow the Commission to issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, or a requirement to obtain additional training or education in addition to the Commission’s current authority to issue a public censure or recommend removal or retirement of a judge.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.”
There is no organized support or opposition to the amendment.