Early voting for 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution will begin this Monday, Oct. 21 and continue through Friday, Nov. 1.
To change the state constitution, the proposed amendments must each be approved by a majority of Texas voters.
Proposition 1 is to allow municipal court judges to hold office in more than one municipality. According to the House Research Organization, the amendment would allow municipal court judges to hold multiple offices whether the person was elected or appointed to each office.
While supporters argue that the proposition would make it easier for all cities to have qualified municipal court judges, critics contend it would create another exception to the long-standing constitutional prohibition against certain elected officials holding more than one paid public office and could set a precedent for future exceptions.
Proposition 2 is to allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue more water development bond projects funded through additional general obligation bonds for the Economically Distressed Areas Program.
Supporters contend the proposition would provide essential financing for necessary water and wastewater infrastructure projects in economically distressed areas of Texas, according to the HRO, while critics argue it would increase the size of government and state bond debt by allowing the TWCB to issue additional bonds, which would raise expenses for taxpayers.
Proposition 3 is to allow temporary property tax exemptions after a disaster. According to the HRO, supporters argue that the amendment is necessary to enable the Texas Legislature to pass laws entitling individuals to a temporary tax exemption for properties damaged by a disaster.
Critics, however, contend that it would replace the current property reappraisal process after a disaster with a mandatory property tax exemption, possibly depriving local governments of necessary funds and removing local discretion.
Proposition 4 is to prohibit a state individual sales tax. According to the HRO, the amendment to the Texas Constitution would prohibit the Legislature from imposing a net income tax on individuals, including on individuals’ shares of partnership or unincorporated association income.
Supporters contend the amendment would help keep the Texas economy strong by ensuring that the state could not impose an individual income tax, sending a message that Texas is committed to maintaining a business-friendly, low-tax economic environment.
Critics argue the amendment is unnecessary because the Texas Constitution already includes a high bar for imposing a personal income tax by requiring that it be approved by a majority of voters in a statewide referendum.
Proposition 5 is to dedicate sporting goods sales tax revenue to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission.
Supporters argue the amendment would ensure that the statutory allocation of the sales tax is used as intended by automatically appropriating the money to the TPWD and THC, according to the HRO, while critics contend that creating constitutionally dedicated accounts would diminish the Legislature’s discretion to prioritize state need when budgeting.
Proposition 6 is to increase the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas’s bond authority from $3 billion to $6 billion. According to the HRO, CPRIT provides grants to support institutions of learning, advanced medical research facilities and other entities in finding the cause of all types of human cancer and developing cures from lab research and clinical trials.
Supporters contend the amendment is important to maintain the agency’s current level of activity in cancer research and prevention, while critics argue that funding cancer research is not an essential function of state government and the bonds would be better spent on other priorities and more pressing needs.
Proposition 7 is to allow increased distributions to the Available School Fund, which according to the HRO pays for instructional materials and classroom technology, and provides additional funding to school districts on a per-student basis.
Supporters argue the amendment would improve funding for public schools by doubling the constitutionally authorized annual distribution from the School Land Board to the ASF, but critics contend it would do so without any assurances that the additional spending would improve educational outcomes.
Proposition 8 is to create the Flood Infrastructure Fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation and flood control projects.
According to the HRO, supporters contend the amendment would establish regional planning and coordination on flood mitigation projects to better provide for vital infrastructure in the state, while critics argue that the creation of another special fund in the Constitution is unnecessary as sufficient sources of federal, state and local funds are available to support such projects.
Proposition 9 is to exempt precious metals held in state depositories from property taxes.
Supporters argue, according to the HRO, that the amendment would allow the state’s precious metal depositories to compete on an even footing with those in other states that do not tax them, while critics contend the state should not expand on exemptions when the property tax system as a whole is being examined and revised.
Proposition 10 is to allow retired law enforcement animal transfers without a fee to the animal’s handler or another qualified caretaker upon the animal’s retirement.
According to the HRO, supporters contend the amendment would clarify authority as the current law has caused confusion, while critics argue it is not necessary.
Registered voters in Kleberg County can cast their ballots at the Early Voting Annex Office, located at 720 E. King Ave. in Kingsville. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Election Day, which will be on Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters must cast ballots in the precinct they are registered to vote.
Applications for ballots by mail must be received no later than the close of business on Oct. 25, and can be mailed to: Stephanie G. Garza, Kleberg County Clerk, Early Voting Clerk, P.O. Box 1327, Kingsville, Texas 78364.
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (361) 221-0251.