Monday marks the beginning of early voting for the Nov. 7 election. Texans are being asked to approve seven amendments to the state’s constitution.
During legislative sessions, lawmakers typically agree on multiple changes to law that require amendments to the state's rigid constitution.
Any changes to the Texas Constitution must be approved by a majority of Texas voters. Getting a proposed amendment on the ballot requires support from more than two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature.
Voters in some communities are also weighing in on important local issues alongside the statewide ballot. For example, qualified Travis County voters will have the chance to vote for or against two bonds — one dealing with transportation improvements and another on constructing and improving county parks. In El Paso, voters will get the chance to approve or deny a $448.5 million bond measure that would build three new campuses and reconstruct a local high school. Check out VoteTexas.gov to find your polling place.
Below are the seven constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot. The Texas Secretary of State’s office randomly assigned each resolution (each of which was adopted during the 2017 regular legislative session) a ballot number ahead of the election.
What will be on the ballot: “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 it means: It would authorize property tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses — those whose homes were donated to them by charity for less than market value.
What will be on the ballot: “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 for 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 it means: This would ease restrictions on borrowing against home equity in Texas and allow Texans easier access to their equity. The proposition also lowers the maximum fees that can be charged in connection with home equity loans but also exempts certain charges from the calculation of that maximum.
What will be on the ballot: “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 it means: Unsalaried appointees whose terms have ended but who have not been replaced would serve only until the next legislative session has ended.
What will be on the ballot: “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 it means: This would require courts to notify the state attorney general of any constitutional challenges to state laws.
What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment on professional sports teams' charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.”
What it means: It would expand the definition of a “professional sports team,” giving more team-connected foundations the ability to hold charitable raffles.
What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”
What it means: This would give property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.
What will be on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.”
What it means: It would allow banks and other financial institutions to conduct promotional activities — such as raffles — to encourage savings.
Why do you vote?
Read related Tribune coverage: