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Kirk Watson Explains Constitutional Amendments on November Ballot

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 04:10 PM CDT

In case you missed it, in this week's Watson Wire (by far the best elected official email program ever in the history of email, for real) State Senator Kirk Watson gave an overview of the upcoming constitutional amendments we're voting on this November. Election Day is November 8, 2011.

Watson is Co-Chair of Texans for Prop 8, the campaign to pass Proposition 8. Good to see him advocating for an important water stewardship effort, as well as educating the voters on everything else on the ballot.

From the Watson Wire:

Major propositions

Proposition 8 - Water Stewardship: Just to reiterate, nothing's more important than a clean, reliable water supply.  Proposition 8 will protect water quality in rivers, streams and aquifers, while also helping the state meet its long-term goal of using better conservation methods for almost a quarter of its water supply.  It will be Texas' first statewide water conservation tool.  

This proposition will let owners have their land appraised in much the same way as some owners who receive an agricultural valuation (generally resulting in a lower tax bill).  Landowners would receive this valuation if they manage their land in a way that improves water quality and quantity.  However, the law would only apply to people who already qualify for the agriculture valuation - meaning it wouldn't cost the state money, but it would incentivize land management practices that help the state's water supply.

Proposition 2 - Water Bonds: This would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue continuing debt, with no more than $6 billion outstanding at any time, for projects that help the state and local entities improve the state's water supply.

More than 90 percent of the state is in moderate to severe drought right now.  We need tools such as both Prop 2 and Prop 8 to meet our future needs.

Proposition 6 - Money for Schools: This gives the state flexibility in how it calculates money that's available to schools from the state's Permanent School Fund.  It also allows the state to distribute up to $300 million more per year from what's known as the Available School Fund.  All told, that translates into more money for Texas schools and schoolkids.

Proposition 1 - Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans' Spouses: The state already provides a full property tax exemption to veterans who are completely disabled.  This proposition would extend that benefit to the surviving spouses of those veterans as long as they continue to meet certain conditions.

Proposition 3 - Higher Education Bonds: This would let the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board issue debt to pay for student loans, subject to restrictions such as a maximum amount of debt outstanding at any one time.

Proposition 9 - Pardons and Community Supervision: This lets the Governor, with the written recommendation of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, grant a pardon, reprieve or commutation of sentence to someone who completes deferred adjudication community supervision.

Not quite as major, but still needed, propositions

There are also a handful of propositions that, for technical legal reasons, need to pass so that the state and its local governments can function more efficiently and accountably.  (I hope that explanation is reassuring as you're trying to figure out why you need to weigh in on this stuff in the same way you help pick the President of the United States.)

Proposition 4 allows counties to issue tax-supported bonds to develop or redevelop certain areas within the county.

Proposition 5 lets cities and counties contract with each other without having to meet certain conditions.

Proposition 10 extends the length of an unexpired term-in-office that triggers the automatic resignation of some local elected officials should those officials announce they're running for something else.

And, of course, there's Proposition 7.  Good luck, El Paso.

Seriously, these are all good propositions and they deserve your support.  Early voting starts October 24.  Don't miss it.


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