November 2017 Texas Constitutional Amendments Voting Guide

Getting people out to vote for something that is intentionally opaque and hard to understand is a tough sell. We get it.

If you need a single reason to get out to vote for something that some view as arcane and inaccessible, it should be to vote against Prop 4, which we oppose. (See below).

Items appear on the ballot in proposition order, without reference to the bill number.  Proposition numbers are assigned at random by the Texas Secretary of State.  We’ve included bill numbers only to aid in research.  

The language used for most propositions is confusing to everyone, but voters are allowed to bring notes into the voting booth.

For more info from some trusted sources, the League of Women Voters has a non-partisan guide here.

And the Texas Legislative Council has more detailed analysis here.

Without further ado, here’s where we stand.

1. We Support Proposition 1 — HJR 21

Indivisible TxLege Stance on Prop 1: For.  

Proposition 1 allows a property-tax exemption on the homestead of a partially disabled veteran if the homestead was donated in part and purchased in part by the veteran.

Current law allows the exemption only if the homestead was donated in full.

That means that right now, partially disabled veterans get a property tax exemption according to the percentage of their disability on any homes entirely donated to them. This proposed amendment would tweak that law to allow disabled veterans who pay up to half of the donated home to get an exemption too.

This specific tax break for veterans would be expanded to include an additional, but unspecified, number of disabled veterans.

More information >>

2. We Oppose Proposition 2 — SJR   60

Indivisible TxLege Stance on Prop 2: Against.

Undermines homestead protections in Texas and benefit banks at the expense of borrowers.

Proposition 2 primarily eases restrictions on home-equity loans (extensions of credit secured by a lien on a homestead). If Prop 2 passes, it would allow a homeowner to refinance a home-equity loan as a non-home-equity loan.  Currently, the option to refinance a home-equity loan into a non-home equity loan is prohibited.  Changing the nature of the loan would allow foreclosure without a court order, remove other protections for borrowers, and permit lenders to have recourse against other assets.

More information >>

3. We Support Proposition 3 –S JR 34

Indivisible TxLege Stance on Prop 3: For.

Makes sense to us. Placing a limit on how long an appointee could continue serving in office would ensure that these unsalaried volunteer positions are rotated among qualified Texans. We believe that appointees should do their best while they can, then get out of the way so that someone else can bring their own life experiences, their perspective, their backgrounds to bear on the unique problems and opportunities our state faces.

Proposition 3 creates an exception to the requirement that appointed officials serve until their successors are confirmed.  State appointees who complete their terms of office currently continue to perform their duties until a successor is confirmed by the Texas Senate. This amendment would limit how long unsalaried officials with an expired term appointed by the governor could hold over even if no successor has been approved.

More information >>

4. We Oppose Proposition 4 – SJR 6

Indivisible TxLege Stance on Prop 4: Against.

It is the Attorney General’s job to advise the legislature when a proposed law is unconstitutional. Simply put, Texas deserves an AG who is better at their job. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Proposition 4 requires notice to the Texas Attorney General when a case is filed in state court that challenges the constitutionality of a Texas statute. After giving this notice, the court would have to wait 45 days before issuing a final judgment, to give the attorney general time to intervene in defense of the challenged law.

Courts should be able to give Texans relief from unconstitutional laws as soon as possible without a mandated waiting period. If you need a reason to get out and vote, it should be to vote No on this one.

More information >>

5. We Support Proposition 5 –H JR 100

Indivisible TxLege Stance: For.

Current law allows charitable foundations of certain professional sports teams based in Texas to conduct charitable raffles; this amendment would expand the list of teams eligible for this exemption from the general prohibition of lotteries and gift enterprises.

In 2015, voters allowed professional sports teams to conduct charitable raffles during home games. Teams can conduct so-called 50/50 raffles where half the money raised during a game would go towards cash prizes and the other half would benefit charities such as youth summer programs, food banks, etc. Only professional teams would qualify such as the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the National Hockey League. The proposed amendment would expand the number of professional sports leagues that qualify and would include the Women’s NBA, American Hockey League, United Soccer League, NASCAR, Professional Golf Association and others.

More information >>

6. We Support Proposition 6 – SJR 1

Indivisible TxLege Stance: For.

The constitution currently allows a homestead tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. military killed in action. This proposition extends the same treatment to the surviving spouse of a first responder killed in the line of duty.

More information >>

7. We Support Proposition 7 – HJR 37

Indivisible TxLege Stance: For.

Proposition 7 and its enabling legislation would allow banks to hold raffles to provide incentives to put money in a savings account. Current law allows raffles only for charitable causes.

More information >>