Nine amendments to be on Texas ballot
When Texans cast ballots for the Nov. 5 election, they will consider nine proposed constitutional amendments. And after a lottery was conducted Monday, the order in which the amendments will appear on those ballots is now in place.
Secretary of State John Steen drew the order of the amendments, which would add to what is already one of the longest state constitutions in the nation. The Texas Legislature has proposed 656 amendments since 1876, and voters have approved 474 of the 653 submitted to them, according to the Legislative Reference Library.
Each of the amendments on the November ballot have been approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and will require majority approval from voters to take effect.
First on the ballot will be HJR 62, by state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, which would authorize the Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for the spouses of veterans. This amendment specifically authorizes a tax exemption for all or part of the market value of the residences of spouses of military members who are killed in action.
Second will be HJR 79, by state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, which would eliminate a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund. Neither is in operation, with the State Medical Education Board having been defunct for more than a quarter-century.
HJR 133, by state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, will appear third on the ballot. The amendment would extend the tax exemption period on storing aircraft parts in the state and would provide more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers, which often hold such parts in inventory for an extended period of time.
HJR 24, by state Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, will follow and authorize the Legislature to give a partial property tax exemption on charity-donated residences to disabled veterans or their surviving spouses. The amendment would strike the current requirement that qualifying residents be "100 percent" disabled.
SJR 18, by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, will appear fifth on the ballot and would allow homeowners age 62 or older to use reverse mortgages to purchase residences. The current law only expressly allows traditional mortgages, which lets such homeowners borrow against the equity of their homes. The amendment would allow the prospective borrower to use a Federal Housing Administration-insured home equity conversion mortgage to help buy a new home.
Next will be SJR 1, also known as the Rainy Day Fund Amendment. The amendment would create two funds to help finance key projects in the state water plan by pulling about $2 billion from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund. Authored by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, the amendment has been opposed by conservatives who have argued that pulling money from the Rainy Day Fund would endanger Texas' economic health.
HJR 87, by state Rep. Sergio Munoz, Jr., D-Palmview, will appear seventh on the ballot. It would authorize home-rule municipalities to choose how to fill city council vacancies if the positions have less than 12 months remaining in a three- or four-year term. The amendment would remove the requirement to hold a mandatory special election for those positions.
HJR 147, by state Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-Mission, will come next on the ballot. It would repeal a constitutional provision authorizing the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.
Last on the ballot will be SJR 42, by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston. It would authorize the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use additional disciplinary actions — including public admonition, warning, reprimand, or required additional training or education — against judges or justices after a hearing. The current law allows the SCJC to issue a public censure or recommend a judge's removal or retirement.