|Every state has their own State Constitution, necessary under the 10th amendment to the US Constitution.
Texas has one of the longest constitutions in the country, with 653 amendments, and if you're wondering, it's Alabama and California who both have longer constitutions. The Texas Constitution is a restrictive document, granting the state only those powers explicitly stated in the document. In each Texas legislative session, lawmakers can either pass laws that they already have the power to change or implement under the current constitution, or ask voters to change the constitution.
This year's amendments are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot, with the descriptions in quotations being the text of the measure as it will appear on the ballot, with any explanations or commentary following.
HJR 62 "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 in action."
HJR 62 provides a specific new tax exemption for the spouse of a service member killed in action.
HJR 79 "The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational."
HJR 133 "The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption."
HJR 133 gives more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers, who may hold inventory for long periods of time.
HJR 24 "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization."
This amendment strikes a current requirement that residents qualifying for the tax exemption be 100% disabled.
SJR 18 "The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan."
This amendment would allow a prospective borrower to use an FHA-insured plan to buy a new residence with a reverse mortgage, a specific type of loan that can be confusing, with high up-front costs for the seniors who typically utilize them.
SJR 1 "The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources."
This is the much discussed amendment that would pull $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund into two new funds that would finance water projects across the state. It's a start, but falls far short of the estimates on how much is actually needed to address our dire water situation in the state. It is also opposed my many far-right conservatives, who say the amendment would imperil Texas' financial position.
HJR 87 "The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less."
Currently the requirement is that municipalities hold a special election.
HJR 147 "The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County."
SJR 42 "The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct."
Current law allows for a censure or the recommendation of the judge's removal or retirement; this amendment would allow additional actions to be taken, like requiring training or education or issuing a warning.
So there they are, the nine proposed amendments that will in some way, big or small, change the way the state conducts its business.
Will you be one of the 5% voting this November?