Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nine New Constitutional Amendments In Texas

On Nov. 5, 2013, Texas citizens voted on nine proposed new constitutional amendments. All nine passed.

For an off-year election, the turn-out was higher than expected. Among several noted reasons, the most prominently stated reason for the turn-out was to test the state's recently enacted Voter Identification laws. Despite the laws, very few had difficulty casting their ballots and there are, so far, fewer allegations of voter fraud. Some went to the polls with small discrepancies between their state-issued photo-IDs and their voter registration cards. They went looking for problems. Most of them were surprised that the laws did not hinder a single lawfully registered voter from casting a ballot.

While there, the voters were asked to ratify or deny nine resolutions for constitutional amendments that were approved by the 83rd Legislature earlier this year. All nine proposed amendments passed the popular ballot and have been adopted.

One of the more controversial amendments was so-called "Prop. 6". Proposition 6 established two new state-level funds directed at the state's water supply and water acquisition systems.

There were two amendments dealing with tax exemptions for disabled military veterans, their surviving spouses (in the event of their deaths), and the surviving family members of Military Service Members killed while on active duty.

In an official proclamation, Governor Rick Perry amended the Texas Constitution accordingly:

WHEREAS, nine proposed amendments to the Constitution of Texas were voted on in the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 5, 2013; and
WHEREAS, on the 22nd day of November, 2013, I, Rick Perry, Governor of the State of Texas, did certify the tabulation prepared by the Secretary of State; and
WHEREAS, the tabulation and total of the votes cast for and against each proposed amendment established that the voters of the State of Texas adopted the following nine proposed amendments by a majority vote to wit:

PROPOSITION 1 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 62 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.

PROPOSITION 2 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 79 eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.

PROPOSITION 3 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 133 authorizing 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.

PROPOSITION 4 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 24 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.

PROPOSITION 5 as submitted by Senate Joint Resolution No. 18 authorizing 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.

PROPOSITION 6 as submitted by Senate Joint Resolution No. 1 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.

PROPOSITION 7 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 87 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.

PROPOSITION 8 as submitted by House Joint Resolution No. 147 and Senate Joint Resolution No. 54 repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.

PROPOSITION 9 as submitted by Senate Joint Resolution No. 42 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."

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 22nd day of November, 2013.

Governor of Texas

In July 2011, Governor Perry issued a proclamation declaring several counties in Texas in states of emergency due to drought conditions. Despite rains that resulted in flash floods in some of these counties over the past year, the precipitation has not been enough to offset the drought conditions.

On Nov. 26th, Gov. Perry extended the declaration of emergency drought conditions. The drought has persisted for over 30 months. Some had claimed the previous extensions were political tools intended to help persuade voters to support Prop. 6. Studies of the aquifers and water tables in these counties demonstrate the conditions do persist.

With the adoption of Prop. 6 as a constitutional amendment, hopefully the trend can be slowed or reversed.