Statewide elected officials would no longer be required to live in Austin under a constitutional amendment that could be headed to voters on a general election ballot.

The Texas House on Monday morning tentatively passed Senate Joint Resolution 52 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. The constitutional amendment would repeal a requirement in the Texas Constitution that mandates statewide elected officials, like the governor and attorney general, live in Austin — the state's capital. 

Though there was a divide in the House over the resolution — Monday's vote was 94 to 46 — debate over the bill was brief. Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, was the only lawmaker to speak against the bill before the chamber voted. Craddick argued that statewide elected positions were full-time jobs, and officials should reside in Austin to do those jobs. 

“How are they going to be at work every day?” Craddick asked. “I think we’re going to see a real change in what we got. I think this is a bad bill.”

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The bill still faces a major hurdle — when it faces third reading, the bill needs 100 votes because joint resolutions requires two-thirds of the body to be approved. Joint resolutions need only a simple majority on second reading, but a two-thirds majority on final reading. 

Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, who sponsored the bill in the House, said the residency mandate was archaic, written in the constitution when people traveled by horse-drawn carriages.

Upon final approval, the constitutional amendment will be sent to the secretary of state and then voted on by Texans in the next general election.

Get The Brief

Never miss a moment in Texas politics with our daily newsletter.