On Nov. 3, Texans registered to vote will get an opportunity to cast ballots for or against 11 proposed Texas Constitutional amendments.
Records indicate that the turnout in 2007 to vote on the Constitutional amendments was a dismal 8.71 percent of over 12 million registered voters. Texans can do a lot better.
During each legislative session, we pass Senate and House Joint Resolutions that become the Constitutional amendments placed on the ballot and also referred to as propositions.
I co-sponsored legislation that created Proposition 8, which was authored by Rep. Kino Flores and Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, authorizing the state to contribute money, property and other resources for the establishment, maintenance and operation of veterans hospitals in this state.
In South Texas alone, we have roughly 100,000 veterans, many needing the specialized care only a facility such as the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio can offer. For many, this trip is too long and costly.
Currently, the state lacks authority to contribute to a veterans’ hospital, and this amendment would encourage the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to partner with state and local communities to establish additional facilities.
The state has previously approved constitutional amendments to construct veterans homes, such as the Alfredo Gonzales Texas State Veterans Home, and veterans cemeteries, such as the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery.
Proposition 8 would give Texans an opportunity to decide on expanding medical care access for our veterans.
Briefly, the 10 other propositions are:
Prop 1: Allows the state to authorize a municipality or county to issue bonds to finance the acquisition of buffer areas or open spaces adjacent to military installations to protect them from encroachment.
Prop 2: Empowers the state to set the valuation of a residence property solely on its value as a homestead, eliminating the influence of consideration of the highest and best use. Properties in areas without zoning restrictions are vulnerable to surrounding commercial development driving values up.
Prop 3: Gives the state full discretion in prescribing uniform standards and procedures for property tax appraisals. Since the state allocates public school funding based on the per-student taxable property value, it is thought that taxable values need to be determined in the same manner in every appraisal district.
Prop 4: Creates the national research university fund to provide a dedicated, independent and equitable source of funding to enable emerging state research universities to become national research universities.
Prop 5: Allows two or more adjoining appraisal districts, if they choose, to consolidate appraisal review board functions. Appraisal review boards are allowed, but not required, to consolidate services.
Prop 6: Permits the Veterans’ Land Board to not only provide, issue and sell general obligation bonds for mortgage loans to veterans, but also allows selling land to Texas veterans or providing them home or land mortgage loans. Removes the $500 million cap on the bonds.
Prop 7: Simply allows Texas State Guard or other state militia or military members to hold civil offices, and vice versa.
Prop 8: Read above.
Prop 9: Enhances the public’s right to free and unrestricted rights to public beaches, even when storm surges dramatically alter tidal and vegetation lines on Texas Gulf Coast properties. Though privately owned, the altered property line considered public beach must allow public access. Also adds the Texas Open Beaches Act to the Texas Constitution.
Prop 10: Limits terms of emergency services districts boards to four years.
Prop 11: Places statute of restrictions on eminent domain into the Constitution that specifies that “public use” excludes the taking of property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues.
For more information, I urge the public to contact: the Texas Secretary of State, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-252-8683 or 512-463-5650, (fax) 512-475-2811. Other organizations with information include the local political parties and county offices.
I encourage every registered South Texan to please vote this November and every election. It takes a little time and a little preparation, but in the end, isn’t the price of democracy well worth it?