Voters are going to the polls today to decide the fate of 10 proposed amendments to the Texas constitution. Here is a look at the proposed constitutional amendments:
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”
The measure would let municipal judges preside over multiple cities as a municipal judge at the same time, whether they were appointed or elected.
Currently, a person can only be appointed to municipal judgeship to serve in more than one city at the same time. The idea behind the proposal is to make it easier for small cities to have qualified municipal judges to oversee cases such as violations of city ordinances and some misdemeanors.
Ballot Language: “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.”
The measure lets the Water Development Board issue up to $200 million in additional general obligation bonds for the Economically Distressed Areas Program. Those funds would be used to help with water supply and sewer service projects in parts of Texas that are economically distressed.
This proposal was sponsored in the House by El Paso Democrat Mary González. There are several future El Paso County projects that could benefit from the funds, according to her office.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”
The measure allows political subdivisions — counties, municipalities, etc — to adopt a temporary property tax exemption in place declared by the governor to be disaster areas.
According to the League of Women Voters, there would be 15%, 30%, 60%, or 100% exemption that would be based on the amount of property damage. Local governments can decide whether or not to use the exemption and its duration.
Ballot Language: “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.”
The measure would prohibit the Texas Legislature from imposing a personal income tax. Texas does not currently have an income tax. The Texas Constitution currently allows an income tax to be imposed only if approved by voters.
In order to implement a personal income tax down the line, the Texas constitution would have to be amended, were this proposition to pass.
Ballot Language: “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 taxes.”
The measure mandates the money from the state's sales tax on sporting goods be used to help fund the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission.
Texas state parks were long funded primarily through a tax on cigarettes, but in 1993 lawmakers replaced that. Instead they'd be funded with a portion of revenues from sporting goods sales taxes, according to the office of Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, who authored the measure.
This measure is intended to ensure these funds be used only for public parks and historic sites. According to Environment Texas, between 1993 to 2017, only 40 percent of the revenues from the tax were appropriated for parks.
Ballot Language: "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."
Currently the Texas Public Finance Authority can sell up to $3 billion in general obligation bonds on behalf of the Texas of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The measure up for a vote in November would increase that amount to $6 billion. A general obligation bond is one backed by the credit of the state.
The institute was established in 2007 for cancer research and prevention efforts. According to the House Research Organization, as of April 16, the institute had awarded around 1,300 grants totaling $2.2 billion to about 100 academic institutions, nonprofits, and public companies.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”
The measure aims to up state funding for public education by increasing the General Land Office's annual maximum distribution to the available school fund from $300 million to $600 million. The measure would also let the State Board of Education make a distribution to the fund of up to $600 million.
Ballot Language: “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.”
The measure would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund to help finance flood prevention and mitigation projects.
The fund would provide grants and low-cost loans for drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects, according to the Texas Water Development Board. An initial allotment of $793 million would be moved from the state's "Rainy Day" fund to the new fund, according to the board.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”
The measure would exempt precious metals — think gold or silver — in a precious metal depository in Texas from property taxes. Essentially, this means if you have precious metals for the purpose of producing income, it would not be subject to property taxes.
Precious metal depositories are facilities equipped to hold such precious metals.
Ballot Language: “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”
When a law enforcement animal retires, this measure would let their handlers or another qualified caretaker keep the animal.
Currently, law enforcement animals, like the dogs used by officers, are treated as surplus county property, according to an analysis of the measure. The League of Women Voters notes that the change would let the animal retire and be given to their handler without an adoption fee.