Early voting begins today and will run until Friday, November 3, 2023. There will be 14 Propositions on the ballot, which will give voters the opportunity to approve measures like property tax relief and funding for Texas’s future infrastructure needs. I know many of you have questions about the Ballot Propositions, so I want to ensure that you have the tools and background knowledge to make an educated vote when you head to the polls. As your Senator, I voted for all of these constitutional amendments on the Senate floor, and I encourage you to take some time to scroll through and read each Proposition. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and my staff.
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“The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.”
What it means: As Texas continues to increase in population and development, Texas loses more than 200,000 acres of farm and ranch land per year. Proposition 1 would constitutionally protect the right of Texans to engage in generally accepted agricultural practices on their own property without fearing that municipal encroachment will threaten their livelihood with broad overregulation that prohibit or greatly restrict normal practices.
A Yes vote on Proposition 1 SUPPORTS constitutionally protecting landowners’ rights for normal practices, while not affecting the authority of an agency to act when there is a public health issue or imminent danger, the ability to preserve and conserve our natural resources, or acquire land for public use, and prohibits excessive oversight from the cities growing up around them.
A No vote OPPOSES adding this protection into the Texas Constitution. Cities would have the ability to continue to regulate agriculture as it sees fit.
PROPOSITION 2 (SJR 64)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.”
What it means: Proposition 2 would allow the governing body of a county or municipality the ability to decide whether to give an exemption for part or all of the appraised value of the property of a childcare facility from property taxes in order to help lower childcare costs.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS allowing a county or city to give an exemption for property used by licensed childcare facilities to help lower childcare costs.
A No vote OPPOSES allowing a property tax exemption for licensed childcare facilities and would mean there is no property tax change for this industry.
PROPOSITION 3 (HJR 132)
“The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual wealth or net worth tax, including a tax on the difference between the assets & liabilities of an individual”
What it means: Proposition 3 would add language to the Texas Constitution prohibiting the State Legislature from creating a tax based on an individual’s wealth or assets. Currently, there is no prohibition on the State Legislature creating this type of tax and during the 2023 Legislative Session there were 8 states that introduced this kind of legislation. The intent of this proposition is to make sure Texans have a direct say in the possibility of a net worth tax being imposed by the legislature.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS PROHIBITING the state from taxing the wealth and assets of an individual or family.
A No vote OPPOSES constitutionally prohibiting an individual or family wealth and assets tax.
PROPOSITION 4 (HJR 2 – 88 (2))
“The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to establish a temporary limit on the maximum appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes; to increase the amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation by a school district applicable to residence homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000; to adjust the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes imposed on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect increases in certain exemption amounts; to except certain appropriations to pay for ad valorem tax relief from the constitutional limitation on the rate of growth of appropriations; & to authorize the legislature to provide for a four-year term of office for a member of the board of directors of certain appraisal districts.”
What it means: Proposition 4 amends the Constitution to do the following:
Raise the homestead exemption from $40,0000 to $100,000 for property owners under the age of 65.
Raise the homestead exemption to $110,000 for those 65 or older.
Temporarily limits the maximum appraised value of property for the purpose of property taxation in a tax year for commercial, mineral, and non-homestead residential properties under $5 million.
Compresses the school M&O taxes an additional 10.7 cents per $100 valuation.
Raises the amount of money a business can make before it is subject to the franchise tax.
Requires 3 new members on the Appraisal District Board who are elected on the ballot in counties over 75K.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS the new tax plan & approximately $1,300 in annual savings for the average homeowner. Businesses & non-homestead properties under $5 million will also cap appraisal values at 20%. Counties over 75K will elect a portion of the appraisal board members.
A No vote OPPOSES the new tax plan. All aspects of property tax would stay the same.
PROPOSITION 5 (HJR 3)
“The constitutional amendment relating to the Texas University Fund, which provides funding to certain institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities & drive the state economy.”
What it means: Texas currently has a fund that awards grants to Texas universities who preform research in specific areas. There has been a long-standing issue among some universities who maintain there are disparities in the way this fund is distributed. To address these long-standing concerns, Proposition 5 would redesignate how those funds are appropriated and distributed. The National Research University Fund would be redesignated as the Texas University Fund. Distribution of funds would be based on performance, would apply only to universities who are designated as major research universities, and who are not already receiving funding from the Public University Fund (PUF). The intent of Proposition 5 is to make these universities more competitive, stronger, and more vital, especially in areas that will be important for regional and state economic development. The initial schools that would benefit are the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, Texas State University, and the University of Houston.
A Yes vote on this amendment SUPPORTS establishing the fund to facilitate non-PUF universities in reaching national recognition.
A No vote OPPOSES the establishment of the fund and would keep non-PUF universities at their current status.
PROPOSITION 6 (SJR 75)
“The constitutional amendment creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state.”
What it means: Proposition 6 would create the Texas Water Fund as a way to help finance water projects in the state. It will move $2 Billion from the Rainy Day Fund and will be overseen by the Texas Water Development Board. With the amount of people moving into Texas every month, water in Texas is a topic of discussion in every region of this state. While we welcome these 1st generation Texans that are coming to experience the Texas Miracle, they are not bringing their water with them. Water is a limited resource and many times the solutions to the water issues we face can take years to implement and are extremely expensive. It is estimated that to cover the aging infrastructure and build out water supply, it will take billions. The intent of this proposition is to help facilitate new and innovative ways to meet the needs of this state and fund those types of projects, as well as help with the aging infrastructure.
A Yes vote on Proposition 6 SUPPORTS creating the Texas Water Fund and moving $2 Billion from the Rainy Day Fund to help fund the projects that will help meet the water needs of Texans.
A No vote OPPOSES creating The Texas Water Fund & moving the money from the Rainy Day Fund.
PROPOSITION 7 (SJR 93)
“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the Texas energy fund to support the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of electric generating facilities.”
What it means: Winter Storm Uri revealed some of the failures in our electricity market, specifically reliability. We made significant improvement on some of those failures during the 87th legislature. Proposition 7 seeks to continue that improvement by creating The Texas Energy Fund, which will incentivize the completion of new or modernized electric thermal generating facilities through grants and zero interest loans. The enabling legislation for this proposition (SB 2627) would establish an advisory committee for the fund, mandate that money be allocated to eligible projects in every region of Texas in proportion to that region’s load share, and delineates the types of projects that can be funded.
A Yes vote for Proposition 7 SUPPORTS creating a fund help incentivize companies to construct/modernize electric thermal generating facilities to strengthen electric grid reliability.
A No vote on Proposition 7 OPPOSES the creation of a separate fund to incentivize the creation/ modernization of electric thermal generating facilities.
PROPOSITION 8 (HJR 125)
“The constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.”
What it means: According to recent studies, almost 2.8 million Texas households or roughly 7 million Texans do not have access to broadband Internet. Proposition 8 would create a specialized fund that would be used ONLY for the expansion of access to and adoption of broadband and telecommunications services. Covid showed us how great a need there is for people to be able to connect to broadband. When almost a quarter of Texas do not have the ability to attend online classes, complete a job application online, get access to healthcare online, or even be able to access the digital marketplace when they can’t leave their house, it creates barriers that negatively impacts Texas.
A Yes vote on Proposition 8 SUPPORTS creating a fund to be used for the expansion of access to broadband in order to better address the digital divide in Texas and better serve the economic, educational, and health needs of our state.
A No vote OPPOSES the creation of this fund and means that the fund would not be established to expand broadband access in Texas
PROPOSITION 9 (HJR 2)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.”
What it means: The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) provides retirement to almost 476,000 retired teachers. It has been many years since there has been a cost-of-living adjustment to this retirement system. Proposition 9 would provide a cost-of-living adjustment to eligible retirees, as well as a one-time payment to eligible retirees who are 75 years or older and retired as of 2001. Because the unprecedented inflation has dramatically increased the cost of expenses, especially in the last few years, teachers on a fixed income, relying on this retirement, have seen a steep decline in how far their money stretches each month.
A YES vote SUPPORTS giving retired teachers a cost-of-living increase to their retirement.
A No vote OPPOSES giving a cost-of-living adjustment for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas
PROPOSITION 10 (SJR 87)
“The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation equipment or inventory held by a manufacturer of medical or biomedical products to protect the Texas healthcare network and strengthen our medical supply chain.”
What it means: This Proposition would provide for a tax exemption for medical or biomedical inventory including all types of medical devices and other products vital to the medical industry. Because of the current tax structure regarding inventory, most of the medical and biomedical manufacturing is located outside of the United States. The intent of Proposition 10 is to strengthen and increase our medical supply chain by encouraging the manufacturing and storage of these vital products in Texas.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS allowing a tax exemption for medical or biomedical inventory to increase the medical supply chain in Texas.
A No vote OPPOSES allowing a tax exemption for medical or biomedical inventory.
PROPOSITION 11 (SJR 32)
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.”
What it means: In 2003, the Texas Constitution was amended to allow certain Texas counties to allow their conservation and reclamation districts to issue bonds to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreation facilities. Proposition 11 would allow El Paso County to be included in the list of counties allowed to do this
A Yes vote SUPPORTS adding El Paso County to the list of counties whose conservation & reclamation districts can issue bonds to fund park & recreation facilities.
A No vote OPPOSES allowing El Paso County to be added to this list.
PROPOSITION 12 (HJR 134)
“The constitutional amendment providing for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County.”
What it means: The Texas Constitution provides that the office of county treasurer in a specific county may be abolished by a constitutional amendment. Proposition 12 would apply only to Galveston County. It would abolish the office and allow the county to employ or contract with a qualified person to fulfill the functions that are currently performed by the Treasurer. The current Galveston treasurer called for eliminating the office while he was running for office.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS abolishing the office of Galveston County Treasurer
A No vote OPPOSES abolishing the office of Galveston County Treasurer
PROPOSITION 13 (HJR 107)
“The constitutional amendment to increase the mandatory age of retirement for state justices and judges.”
What it means: Currently, the Texas Constitution mandates judges and justices to retire at the age of 75, but allows them to serve through 4 years of that term if they turn 75 during those years. Depending on the judicial office, some judges serve for 4 years and some for 6 years. Proposition 13 would increase the mandatory retirement age from 75 to 79 and allow them to complete their term regardless of the length of the term.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS increasing the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices to 79 and allowing them to serve out their term.
A No vote OPPOSES increasing the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices. It would keep the mandatory retirement age at 75 & they could only serve 4 years regardless if the term is longer.
PROPOSITION 14 (SJR 74)
“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used for the creation and improvement of state parks.”
What it means: Proposition 14 would create a centennial parks conservation fund as a trust fund outside of the state treasury to create and improve state parks. It would be funded by money appropriated by the State Legislature and grants or gifts given to the Parks and Wildlife Department. The fund would be administered by the Parks and Wildlife Department and the enabling legislation (SB 1648) prohibits any money from the fund to be used for the administration of the department.
A Yes vote SUPPORTS the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund for the creation and improvement of state parks.
A No vote OPPOSES the creation of the fund
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and my office if there is ever anything that I can help you with.