Oct. 10 – Last day to register to vote in this election
Oct. 23 – First day of early voting
Oct. 27 – Last day to apply for ballot by mail
Nov. 3 – Last day of early voting
Nov. 7 – Election Day
Texas voters will have the final say this November on seven proposed state constitutional amendments that range in topic from creating tax exemptions for disabled veterans and first responders to allowing banks and financial institutes to hold raffles to promote savings.Here are the seven constitutional amendments that will be on the November ballot, explanations of what you’ll be voting for, along with arguments for and against from the Texas House Research Organization:
Ballot Language: 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 for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.
What this means: Partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses will receive a property tax exemption for homes donated to them by a charity for less than market value.
Supporting argument: “Veterans have sacrificed much for the state, and the Legislature should afford them certain benefits and attempt to address injustices when it finds them. The proposition would confer the same well-earned property tax exemption to a partially disabled veteran who paid something toward the value of a donated home that is currently received by disabled veterans whose homes were donated in full.”
Opposing argument: “The amendment would continue a pattern of giving carve-outs and exemptions to specific groups of people when instead the Legislature should focus its efforts on reducing the tax burden on everyone.”
Ballot Language: The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing of home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.
What this means: This eases restrictions on borrowing against home equity in the state, such as lowering the cap on fees to receive a home equity loan from 3 percent to 2 percent of the original principal amount; allowing homeowners to combine a home equity loan with a loan taken to buy a house; and allows owners of houses on land classified as agricultural to enter into voluntary liens to secure home equity loans.
Supporting argument: “The proposed amendment would be consistent with the goal of protecting consumers within a stable housing market that Texas set when it developed home-equity loans. It would balance consumer protection with an appropriate standard for lenders by lowering the ceiling on fees that can be charged and removing certain fees from the calculation of the cap. It would increase consumer choice by allowing the refinancing of home equity loans into non-home equity loans, something currently prohibited. And, it would repeal an unnecessary restriction on home equity lines of credit, which has resulted in consumers being unable to access funds for which they had been approved.”
Opposing argument: “The change would raise costs for borrowers and would roll back important consumer protections. Changes to the fee cap would raise, not lower, costs for consumers and could create incentives to lenders to make loans. While the bill would lower the overall cap, it also would exclude major charges from the cap calculation. And, consumers would lose important protections if home equity loans were refinanced as non-home equity loans. These protections include requiring judicial foreclosure on home equity loans and making home equity loans non-recourse so that a borrower’s other assets are not at risk in a default.”
Ballot Language: The constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate after the expiration of the person’s term of office.
What this means: Unsalaried officials whose terms have ended but have not been replaced would continue to serve after their terms expire until the last day of the regular legislative session. If a new official is not appointed by the end of the session, the office becomes vacant.
Supporting argument: “Placing a limit on how long an appointee whose term had expired could continuing serving in office would ensure that these non-salaried volunteer positions were rotated among qualified Texans. Placing the limit at the end of a regular legislative session would allow the Texas Senate to hold confirmation hearings on replacement appointees.”
Opposing argument: “Limits could result in important appointed offices remaining vacant if a successor had not been duly qualified within the time limits of the proposal. The Office of the Governor has many appointed positions to fill, and the existing constitutional provision allows flexibility for appointees to continue serving until qualified replacements can be found.”
Ballot Language: The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.
What this means: The proposition would require courts to notify the state attorney general of any constitutional challenges to state laws. The measure also would allow the legislature to require a waiting period of not more than 45 days after a judge notifies the AG before the judge can rule a state law unconstitutional.
Supporting argument: “It is important that the state, through the attorney general, has an opportunity to weigh in when someone is challenging the constitutionality of a law. This protects the prerogative of the Legislature to pass laws on behalf of Texans and to have those laws maintained.”
Opposing argument: “The Legislature should not be empowered to establish procedures that could delay relief for those challenging a law as unconstitutional. Texans should be able to pursue and receive relief from unconstitutional laws without courts being subject to a waiting period to make a ruling.”
Ballot Language: The constitutional amendment on professional sports team charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.
What this means: This will expand the definition of a professional sports team to include certain minor league sports teams, motorsports racing teams, Professional Golf Association events, and other teams defined by the law. It also would remove wording from the constitution that requires the charitable foundations to have been founded by Jan. 1 2016.
Supporting argument: “The joint resolution would allow teams to capitalize on the large and supportive crowds at sporting events to increase funds available to support their charitable programs. Charitable raffles have been successful in raising large amounts of money for charity with no abuse of the process.”
Opposing argument: “The limitations in place were established to protect against the creation of entities solely to take advantage of charitable raffles. The amendment could open the door to further expansion of charitable raffles conducted by the foundations of less well-established teams, an idea that was rejected the last session when the Legislature was unambiguous in its choice of teams allowed to hold charitable raffles.”
Ballot Language: 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 first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.
What this means: This would give property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.
Supporting argument: “The spouse of a fallen first responder loses a source of income, which can jeopardize his or her ability to pay property taxes and may ultimately affect the ability of surviving spouses to maintain their homesteads. This would help ensure that families in these situations were not forced to sell their homes due to this sudden property tax burden. The tax exemption would be appropriate considering the significant sacrifices made by these families.”
Opposing argument: “The amendment would continue a pattern of giving tax exemptions to specialized groups when instead the Legislature should focus its efforts on reducing the aggregate property tax burden. Exempting a specific category of people, regardless of how deserving, results in an increased tax burden on other homeowners.”
Ballot Language: The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.
What this means: It allows banks and financial institutions to conduct promotional activities, such as prize raffles, to promote savings.
Supporting argument: “Savings incentives are needed in the state, as more than one-third of Texas households lack a savings account, and about half do not have a three-month emergency fund.”
Opposing argument: “The passing of the proposition would be a carve-out for one industry to do a raffle and would be the only non-charitable raffle allowed in the state.