Voters must consider eight amendments to the Texas Constitution November 2nd

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Bitter Clinger
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https://texasscorecard.com/commentary/s ... im-voting/

Sullivan: How I’m Voting
Voters must consider eight amendments to the Texas Constitution. Some of them should make you mad.

By Michael Quinn Sullivan | October 20, 2021

Since being adopted in 1876, the Texas Constitution has been amended 507 times. If it seems
Texans do more “amending” than most states, it is because our state’s Constitution requires
voter approval for changing aspects of state law that elsewhere is left up to the politicians.
Locally, many of us are also being asked to allow the issuance of multimillion-dollar bonds to
do all sorts of fun and exciting things. Left unmentioned is that those “bonds” represent debt
you and your neighbors will have to pay off.

Bonds are like the credit card debt of the government. It’s not the $50 charged to the card that
creates problems, but the interest that rapidly accrues when that money isn’t immediately
paid off. But bonds are worse, because they are designed not to be paid back quickly; they are
designed to collect interest. That means taxpayers are on the hook for whatever amount is
listed—plus another 50 percent or so.

So, I almost always vote “no” on local bonds unless the need is explicit and the spending plan
is extremely detailed. I vote “no” a lot.

This is why I am adamantly opposed to the statewide Proposition 2. As my friend
, Prop. 2 “virtually guarantees your property taxes won’t go down.” The
proposition itself explains how the bonds are for counties to fund “infrastructure and
transportation projects in underdeveloped, unproductive, or blighted areas.” That’s a lot of
spending, a lot of debt, and not a lot of clarity. I’ll vote “no.”

Here is how I’ll be approaching the others:

Proposition 1 is an expansion of the state picking winners and losers in the soft “charitable
gambling” space. This is not the free market at work. This is not some “libertarian” happy
space for individual choice. This is the PR side of corporate welfare recipients getting to
pretend they are “giving back” to the community. I’ll be voting “no.”

Proposition 3 is a reminder of how ineffectual—even cowardly—our courts and Legislature
have become. In 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott closed down churches, setting the stage for local
governments to follow suit. He backed down, but the local tyrants didn’t ease up—and
through it all, the courts ignored the existing constitutional protections for worship. So we get
another constitutional amendment reaffirming the existing amendment that Greg Abbott and
the courts already ignored. I am voting—angrily—”yes.”

Proposition 4 limits voters’ ability to pick the candidate of their choice for judicial races. I’m
not sure how citizens are served by requiring lawyers to spend an additional amount of
professional time chasing ambulances and over-billing clients before being eligible to be
elected as a judge. I’ll vote “no.”

Proposition 5 is being sold as “fairness”—putting judicial candidates under the thumb of the
unelected bureaucracy that regulates incumbent judges. The difference? The unelected
bureaucracy serves at the leisure of the elected judges. Gee, I wonder how that will turn out. It
is an incumbency protection racket. I’ll vote “no.”

I look at Proposition 6 the same way I do Prop. 3; I’ll be angry when voting for it. Greg Abbott
decided to block nursing home residents from their families, leaving many to suffer and die
alone. Our courts looked on and did nothing. The amendment is the least the Legislature
could do, and it is weak, but maybe the next governor won’t ignore it.

By design, Propositions 7 and 8 are hard to be against. They tug at the emotional
heartstrings by extending homestead tax limits and exemptions to the surviving spouses of
people who qualified for the original exemption. Lawmakers exempt sympathetic people from
the confiscatory property tax system precisely so they can avoid doing anything substantive
for everyone. Legislators know the widow of a disabled veteran would be a powerful victim in
the fight for real property tax reform if her home was taken due to the property tax burden, so
they do these things to keep her and others like her off the rhetorical field of battle.

Terri Hall wrote recently with regard to statewide propositions:
Whether you vote for or against 7 and 8, both are a reminder that the governor, lieutenant
governor, and legislators haven’t done anything to substantively relieve our property tax
burden or work toward eliminating the property tax system.
So, there you have it. Now I’ll head to the polls.
Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank
vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He
is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”
Menachem Begin to Joe Biden (1982): I Am Not A Jew With Trembling Knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history.
powerboatr
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voted yes on #2 our "planned" community is screwed over by the developer and we need money to fix roads in a bad way
it gives us a way to petition our county to come in and fix them , and tag it to our property tax which has several good in our favor.
Retired Navy (1983-2004), Native Texan living in the piney woods
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Jusme
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I have a very negative opinion regarding amendments to the Texas Constitution. I believe amendments should be treated like hall of fame inductees, and only those things which are most important, and "no brainers" should go in.

Amending the Constitution, should be more than a popularity contest, and should require more than just a simple majority, to pass.

A lot of these proposals, should be legislated into law. Proposing them for popular vote, diminishes, the entire document, in my opinion. This just gives the legislators an "out" to avoid passing laws, that may be unpopular to their constituents. And takes them off the hook.

Another problem, with these amendments, as pointed out in the article above, is that it gives local entities too much leeway to raise taxes. Without specific definitions of what constitutes, "infrastructure" "blight" "unproductive" etc.. local taxing authorities, can lump together a lot of things and raise taxes.

And lastly, since this is an "off cycle" voting situation,( No State or national election) turnout will be very low, so a very small number of people will be deciding very large, issues. JMHO
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srothstein
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Jusme wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 6:55 am I have a very negative opinion regarding amendments to the Texas Constitution. I believe amendments should be treated like hall of fame inductees, and only those things which are most important, and "no brainers" should go in.

Amending the Constitution, should be more than a popularity contest, and should require more than just a simple majority, to pass.

A lot of these proposals, should be legislated into law. Proposing them for popular vote, diminishes, the entire document, in my opinion. This just gives the legislators an "out" to avoid passing laws, that may be unpopular to their constituents. And takes them off the hook.
I agree with you on 99% of this as a philosophy but have to disagree with it as a reality in Texas. Your philosophy works when the Constitution is written wisely and allows room for the government to adjust to modern times. For a general example, look at the US Constitution and how few times it has been amended or truly needed to be. It allows room for the legislature to flex a little to meet changing conditions.

For an example of where the US Constitution was written too specifically, not giving the government enough room to flex a little for changing circumstances, look at the Seventh Amendment. In a civil case, you have the right to a trial by jury if the amount in question is over $20. By picking and amount, instead of just saying you always have that right, the framers admitted that some civil cases are too small to justify the expense and hassle of a jury trial. And twenty bucks was a good sum in 1790, That was about two months wages for the average laborer then, and a months worth for an artisan. But 20 now is not nearly as valuable in terms of labor and may not justify the cost and time of a jury for this lawsuit. There are other ways they could have written that amendment where a new amendment would be needed to change the level of dispute for a jury trial.

The Texas Constitution was written much more specifically, and as a general rule is a bad form of Constitution. For example, the section on property taxes lists specific exemptions that are allowed, including the amounts for them. To get a new exemption passed, or the amount of a current one changed, requires an amendment approved by the people. And, for anyone who is not paying attention to the legislature, this is why we will have a new vote in May for another constitutional amendment. The third called session passed a bill to raise the mandatory homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000. Article 8, section 1-b will need to be amended to allow this too happen.

There may be advantages to having a very tightly controlled government through the Constitution. I like the way ours is limited to just 140 days in session every other year (unless the governor calls a special session). This is spelled out in the Texas Constitution. But I also don't like having to go to the people for approval on many of these topics.

As an aside, if any of you are Aggies, the Constitution says you should all support the UT Longhorns. After all, A&M is really just a part of UT (see article 7, section 13)
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A couple other points I would like to add about constitutional amendments.

1) It may be a simple majority vote when it comes to the general voting population, but it needs 2/3 in both chambers to even get it to the ballot.

2) The legislature can bypass the executive branch as passed constitutional amendments do not go to the governor's desk for approval. That being said, with a 2/3 majority in each house required, they would theoretically be able to override any potential veto.
KBCraig
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It's interesting how different states approach constitutional amendments. Arkansas is much like Texas, where it's used as a form of ballot initiative (even though AR has ballot initiatives). Alabama, I think, is even worse in terms of number of amendments.

NH has two methods. First, the legislature, by a simple majority, can ask the voters to approve a convention. Second, the legislature, by a 60% vote of both bodies, can send an amendment directly to the voters.

Either method requires 2/3rds approval of the voters.

We've had over 200 amendments using both methods, but our constitution goes back to 1784, predating the U.S. Constitution.

The most recent examples were in 2018, when voters overturned court precedent and gave taxpayers direct standing to sue over tax assessments (83% in favor), and affirmed a right to privacy against government intrusion (81%).
What do I miss about Texas? Most of the food, some of the people, absolutely none of the weather.
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Bitter Clinger
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So I went to vote this morning and was informed that a face mask was REQUIRED in order to enter and vote. How is that legal?
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strogg
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Bitter Clinger wrote: Tue Nov 02, 2021 10:21 am So I went to vote this morning and was informed that a face mask was REQUIRED in order to enter and vote. How is that legal?
My voting experience was substantially worse. I was able to cast my vote without displaying the face side of my ID for anyone to see.
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Bitter Clinger wrote: Tue Nov 02, 2021 10:21 am So I went to vote this morning and was informed that a face mask was REQUIRED in order to enter and vote. How is that legal?

I don't think it was. Abbott has specifically mandated, that no government official, can mandate masks.

https://guides.sll.texas.gov/covid-19/m ... r-31325081
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Bitter Clinger
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Jusme wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 10:21 am
Bitter Clinger wrote: Tue Nov 02, 2021 10:21 am So I went to vote this morning and was informed that a face mask was REQUIRED in order to enter and vote. How is that legal?

I don't think it was. Abbott has specifically mandated, that no government official, can mandate masks.

https://guides.sll.texas.gov/covid-19/m ... r-31325081
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