Texans head to the polls Nov. 5 to weigh in on 9 constitutional amendments

Texas residents will have the opportunity to go to the polls Nov. 5 to vote on nine amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Voters must now provide valid photo identification at the polls following a 2011 decision by the Texas Legislature, which was backed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year. The ID must be current or have expired within 60 days of being presented at the polling place.

In the 2011 constitutional amendment election, seven of 10 amendments passed.

Of 13,269,233 registered voters in the state of Texas, 690,052 voters, or 5.2 percent of registered voters, went to the polls for the 2011 constitutional amendment election.

In contrast, nearly 8 million Texans, or more than 58 percent of registered voters, went to the polls in the 2012 presidential election.

Of the 653 amendments placed on the ballot by the Texas Legislature since the constitution's adoption in 1876, 474 have been approved by voters and 179 have been defeated.

Proposition 1

"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."

Explanation: The Legislature could grant the surviving spouse of a U.S. military member killed in action a property tax exemption for all or part of a homestead.

Proposition 2

"The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational."

Explanation: A requirement for a State Medical Education Board and State Medical Fund would be eliminated. The fund, created to attract physicians to underserved rural areas, was ineffective and has not been used in 20 years.

Proposition 3

"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."

Explanation: A city, county or school district could allow companies to keep tax-exempt airplane parts, categorized as freeport goods, in the state longer without losing their tax-exempt status. Airplane parts are generally held in inventory for longer periods of time than most freeport goods because of a lack of customer need.

Proposition 4

"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."

Explanation: The Legislature could authorize a property tax exemption for a partially disabled veteran or a surviving spouse equal to the percentage of the veteran's disability if the homestead was donated by a charitable organization. Property tax exemptions are already in place for completely disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.

Proposition 5

"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."

Explanation: The amendment would allow the authorization of a reverse mortgage for the purchase of homestead property. It would expand the conditions of when a lender may require repayment to include the borrower's failure to occupy the property within the period specified in the loan agreement.

Proposition 6

"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."

Explanation: The amendment would allow for the creation of a State Water Implementation Fund and revenue fund for Texas. The money would go toward the creation of the substantial water supply that will be needed in the coming decades. According to the 2012 state plan, 8.3 million acre-feet of additional water supply will be needed by 2060.

Proposition 7

"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."

Explanation: A home rule-designated city could decide how to fill a vacancy on its governing body as long as the unexpired term is 12 months or less. Currently, cities must call for a special election to fill a short-term vacancy.

Proposition 8

"The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County."

Explanation: The amendment would repeal a 1959 provision limiting the feasibility of creating a hospital district in Hidalgo County. The county is the largest in Texas without a hospital district.

Proposition 9

"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."

Explanation: The amendment would expand the sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding to include a public admonishment, warning, reprimand or requirement that the judge or justice obtain additional training or education.

Source: Texas Legislative Council, www.tlc.state.tx.us

On the ballot

Katy ISD Bond

Voters will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on the $99 million Student Activities Facilities Bond called by the Katy ISD school board. The project includes a $69.5 million stadium, a $25 million agriculture complex and a $4.5 million science, technology and math project center. School officials have said that it will not raise taxes because growth in the area provides enough of a tax boost to cover the cost of the bond.

Fort Bend Mobility Bond

The proposed $184.9 million bond is not expected to increase the county's property tax rate. It will fund the widening of major thoroughfares such as Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 90. The total bond amount will be split up between the county's four precincts. Precinct 1 will receive $53.4 million; Precinct 2, $47.5 million; Precinct 3, $58 million; and Precinct 4, $26 million.

Early voting locations

Harris County

Early voting times often vary by site.

Franz Road Storefront, 19818 Franz Road, Katy

Bear Creek Park Community Center, 3055 Bear Creek Drive at Patterson Road

A complete list of Harris County early polling and Election Day locations may be found at www.harrisvotes.com.

Fort Bend County

Early voting times often vary by site.

Cinco Ranch Branch Library, 2620 Commercial Center Blvd., Katy

Harmony Science Academy, 22400 Grand Corner Drive, Katy

Irene Stern Community Center, 6920 Katy Fulshear Road, Fulshear

A complete list of Fort Bend County early polling and Election Day locations may be found at www.fortbendcountytx.gov.

Waller County

Early voting times often vary by site.

Katy VFW Hall, 6202 George Bush Ave., Katy

A complete list of Waller County early polling and Election Day locations may be found at www.wallercountyelections.com.

Key dates

Oct. 7: Voter registration deadline

Oct. 21–Nov. 1: Early voting

Nov. 5: Election Day, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.

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