SAN ANTONIO — This Election Day, Nov. 2, Texas voters are considering eight state propositions on their ballots.
Each is a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution. Voters will have the opportunity to vote “for” or “against” each of them.
All of the potential amendments originated in the Texas Legislature because the state constitution cannot be amended by citizen-led ballot initiatives or petitions. Because of this, Texans vote on amendments in the fall of odd-numbered years, following the spring legislative session.
To make it easier to know how you want to vote on each of the proposed amendments, we broke down what each proposition on your ballot would do if it is passed, as well as some of the arguments for and against each of them.
Proposition 1 (HJR 143)
This amendment would add professional rodeo charitable foundations that are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association or the Women's Professional Rodeo Association to the list of similar foundations for other professional sports associations that are allowed to hold raffles. If approved, the raffles may be held at rodeos in Texas.
According to the League of Women Voters of Texas (LWV), a nonpartisan organization, arguments for passing this prop are that many other professional sports charitable foundations – including those for the NFL, NBA and MLB – are already allowed to hold raffles. Meanwhile, those against the amendment say that raffles are another form of gambling and that, if authorized, this form of gambling could eventually be extended beyond professional sports to other types of organizations.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 1 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women's Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues."
Proposition 2 (HJR 99)
Currently, the Texas Constitution allowed the Legislature to authorize cities to issue bonds or notes to pay for the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in "unproductive, underdeveloped or blighted areas." This amendment would add counties to the political entities that can issue bonds or notes for that purpose and to pledge increases in property tax revenues to repay those bonds or notes.
However, if a county issues bonds for transportation improvements, the county may not allocate more than 65% of the property tax increases annually to repay the bonds nor use the bond proceeds to finance toll road construction, operation, maintenance or right-of-way acquisition.
According to LWV, those for this amendment argue that it simply allows counties the same authorization cities and towns already have; that development or redevelopment of transportation infrastructure can increase property values; and that with the state's growth, such development is needed.
Those against the amendment say it could expand debt, which might raise local property taxes; that the state's local debt ratio per person is too high and issuing these bonds "ties up future funds for debt reservice payments;" and that transportation and infrastructure projects could use money that might go to other government services and projects.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 2 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county."
Proposition 3 (SJR 27)
This amendment would add a new section to Article 1 of the Texas Constitution, or the "Texas Bill of Rights," and would prohibit state or local governments from prohibiting or limiting religious services. This proposed amendment is in response to certain restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LWV says that supporters of this amendment argue that closing churches violates the religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Opponents of the amendment say that it could prevent local governments from enforcing safety measures during natural disasters.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 3 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations."
Proposition 4 (SJR 47)
This amendment would change the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office.
Currently, a candidate for the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and regional Courts of Appeals must have been a practicing lawyer for at least 10 years or a practicing lawyer or judge of a court of record for a combined total of 10 years. This amendment would add the requirement that the candidate be licensed in the State of Texas for at least 10 years and defines the court of record as a state court or county court established by the Legislature. Additionally, during the 10-year period, the candidate's law license must not have been revoked or suspended.
Currently, a candidate for state district judge must be a U.S. citizen licensed to practice law in Texas and have been a practicing lawyer for at least four years, or a practicing lawyer or judge of a Texas court for a combined total of four years. This amendment would add the requirement that a district judge candidate be a Texas resident and would change the four-year requirement to eight years. Again, during that period, the candidate's license must not have been revoked or suspended.
According to LWV, those for the passage of this amendment say that increasing the experience requirement for district court judges could result in a better qualified Texas judiciary. Opponents say the additional years of experience the amendment would require could adversely impact the diversity of candidates and judges and would restrict the size of the eligible pool of candidates.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 4 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge."
Proposition 5 (HJR 165)
Right now, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct accepts complaints against, and investigates and takes actions concerning, alleged misconduct by judges who are currently in office. This amendment would extend that power to judicial candidates as well.
According to LWV, supporters say allowing misconduct charges against candidates could result in fairer judicial campaigns. Opponents say the amendment is unnecessary because those who have misconduct complaints against candidates can file them with other authorities.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 5 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office."
Proposition 6 (SJR 19)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, family members and other caregivers were restricted from access to nursing homes and similar facilities. This amendment would allow a resident of such a facility to name a person as their essential caregiver and visits from that caregiver would become the resident's constitutional right.
According to LWV, supporters of this amendment point to the positive effects visitation can have on individuals in group care. Opponents say the amendment takes away the ability of public health and certain government officials to restrict access to such facilities in order to protect the residents and staff.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 6 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation."
Proposition 7 (HJR 125)
If passed, this proposition would update the Texas Constitution to allow surviving spouses of disabled persons a limit on school district property tax. Currently, the limitation is provided to homeowners over the age of 65 and to disabled persons. Under the proposed amendment, the spouse must be at least 55 when the disabled person died and still live in the home to be eligible.
In 2019, the Tax Code was updated to allow this tax limitation for surviving spouses of disabled persons so, according to the LWV, supporters of this amendment say it would validate that state law that has already been passed and clarify that it's to be enforced. Opponents say the passage could reduce tax revenues for school districts and other taxing authorities and could lead to further property tax exemptions that could negatively affect schools in the future.
Here’s how you’ll see Proposition 7 worded on your ballot:
"The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse's residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person's death."
Proposition 8 (SJR 35)
At this time, the surviving spouse of a military member who is killed "in action" is entitled to an exemption from property taxes. The exemption is for the property tax on the market value of the spouse's residence homestead if they have not remarried.
This amendment would expand eligibility for the same exemption to spouses of members of the military who are killed "in the line of duty," rather than "in action." A death "in the line of duty" means their death was due to injuries not related to combat but still sustained as a result of their military duties.
According to LWV, supporters say this amendment would correct an oversight in the current law and that the additional surviving spouses it would include deserve the same benefit that the spouses already included currently receive. Opponents say the amendment will reduce tax revenues to school districts, counties, cities and special districts by lowering the property value because many more members of the military are killed in the line of duty than they are in action.
Here’s how you’ll see Propositon 8 worded on your ballot:
"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 or fatally injured in the line of duty."
When can you vote on these propositions?
In-person early voting for the Nov. 2 election was conducted from Monday, Oct. 18, to Friday, Oct. 29. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot was Friday, Oct. 22. Mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 or 5 p.m. on Nov. 3 if the envelope was postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
On Election Day, Nov. 2, polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For early voters, polls are open at the same time Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
For the latest election coverage, visit KENS5.com/elections.