Texas ballot lists 14 props for November 7 vote
By Basil Gist
The state legislature is bringing 14 propositions before Texas voters in November.
These propositions run the gamut of issues from water projects to mandatory retirement ages for state judges. Below is a brief look at the first seven.
Proposition 1 looks to add a new section to Article 1 of the state constitution that would establish property owner’s rights to farm, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.
“Prop 1 isn’t about protecting the past,” Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. “It’s about ensuring Texans’ access to safe and affordable food in the future. … Only responsible normal day-to-day agricultural practices are protecting, not practices employed by bad actors.”
The Texas Farm Bureau is joined by several other organizations and representatives in support of the proposition, including the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Republican Representative DeWayne Burns and Democrat Representative Mary Gonzalez.
The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and the Humane Society are both in opposition.
“While it sounds good and it will help some farmers who are struggling with unfair government regulations, the amendment goes much too far and will end up hurting both farmers and communities,” the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance said. “It uses broad language and sets standards that can be used to prevent not only local governments, but [also] state agencies and even future state legislatures from taking action to rein in operations.”
Proposition 2, sponsored by Democrat Senator Royce West, would authorize state legislature to both define ‘child care facility’ and impose eligibility requirements for qualifying for tax exemption for such facilities as well as pass a law for said exemptions.
The proposition received endorsements from Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Texas Restaurant Associations and has received no marked opposition. It passed at the Senate with 80% approval and the House with 76.5%.
Proposition 3 would prohibit the state legislature from imposing a tax based on wealth or net worth of an individual or family. This proposition works in tandem with one from 2019 that prohibits the state from adopting a state income tax.
Sponsored by Republican Representative Cole Hefner and opposed by Every Texas and Texas American Federation of Teachers, the proposition received unanimous approval from every Republican senator and representative and a dressing down from the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board.
“It seems Texas’ proposed amendment is mostly just an opportunity for voters to signal to the state’s wealthy elite, Musk among them, that your money is safe here and will be for generations to come,” the board said. “Texas is already a haven for the rich, with the fourth-highest population of billionaires in the nation. Who’s to say what Texas’ economic outlook will be 30 years from now? It would be foolish to take it off the table entirely as new technologies … could further concentrate wealth in the hands of a tiny few.”
Proposition 4 deals in homestead tax exemption, raising it from $40,000 to $100,000, which would take effect for the tax year commencing on January 1, on school taxes.
Legislation has steadily increased the exemption over the years from $5,000 in 1997 incrementally to the current $40,000 in 2022, all with at least 84% voter approval.
Proposition 5, which received 96% approval at the Senate and 73% approval at the House, would rename the National Research University Fund to the Texas University Fund and allocate annually the interest income, dividends and investment earnings from the state’s rainy-day fund to the university fund to support research activities.
“There’s no reason a state as big and well-resourced as Texas shouldn’t have more top research universities,” said Kelly Damphousse, president of Texas State University in San Marcos.
Proposition 6 would establish a Texas Water Fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board. The proposition is sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Perry and has received no opposition with unanimous approval at Senate and only absent representatives pulling from approval at the House.
Proposition 7 looks to create a Texas Energy Fund to be administered by the Public Utilities Commission and would allow the state to allocate money for the modernization of electric generating facilities.
Supported by Texas Oil and Gas Association, Valero Energy and sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Schwertner, the bill is cited as being in response to Winter Storm Uri.
“[It] revealed failures in our electricity market, specifically the lack of reliability,” Schwertner said. “S.B. 2627 creates a completion bonus and zero-interest loan for new dispatchable generation resources directly targeted at ‘steel in the ground.’”
The proposition is opposed by Environment Texas, Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance and Texas Consumer Association.
“We need, and Texas wants, more clean energy, not less,” Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger said. “There is strong support for more wind and solar energy, more battery storage, more energy efficiency, and more interconnection with the national grid.”
A more detailed look at each proposition is available at Ballotpedia.org. Early voting begins Oct. 23.