— Following is a look from the League of Women Voters at two of the nine proposed changes to the Texas Constitution that will be on the Nov. 5 statewide election ballot. Early voting is Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. Registered voters can vote at any county location during early voting. The last day to register is Oct. 7.
AUSTIN – The Texas Constitution of 1876 has been amended 474 times by Texas voters and is one of the longest state constitutions.
“In the November 5 Constitutional Amendment Election, Texas voters will decide whether to repeal 2 previous amendments and remove provisions from the Texas Constitution” according to LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair, Linda Krefting.
Proposition 2 on the ballot would eliminate an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board (SMEB) and a State Medical Education Fund. The proposed amendment would remove references to these defunct entities in the constitution and state law.
Legislative author Rep. Dan Branch indicates Proposition 2 repeals “the obsolete State Medical Education Board and the related fund. The board was ineffective in its time and, as a result, has been idle since 1988. This proposition will trim our sprawling Constitution and finally eliminate an agency that the Sunset Commission advised us to abolish 25 years ago.”
Others believe a constitutional amendment to remove references to State Medical Education Board and Fund is unnecessary because they are defunct and no loans have been issued since 1988.
Proposition 8 on the ballot would remove from the Texas Constitution a 1960 amendment that authorized the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County with a maximum tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property, a limit that is below all other counties in Texas.
According to legislative author Rep. Bobby Guerra, Hidalgo County is the largest Texas county without an operating hospital district and has the highest percentage without health insurance in the U.S.
“By voting Yes on Proposition 8, Texans will be returning local control to the residents of Hidalgo County. Voting Yes on Proposition 8 will ensure that if a hospital district is created in Hidalgo County, it will be done in the same manner as every other county in Texas.”
Others might be concerned that passage of Proposition 8 would increase the taxes for property owners in Hidalgo County since a hospital district could be created with a tax rate as high as 75 cents per $100 valuation of all property.
The votes of Texans casting ballots either for or against Proposition 2 and Proposition 8 in the Nov. 5 election will determine whether or not to repeal provisions already part of the Texas Constitution.
The nonpartisan LWV-Texas Education Fund Voters Guide for the Constitutional Amendment Election with the ballot language, an explanation and balanced arguments for and against each proposition plus helpful information on the new photo ID requirement and other aspects of voting is available online at www.lwvtexas.org and www.VOTE411.org and distributed in print by local Leagues and through many libraries.
A Constitutional Amendment page on www.lwvtexas.org provides additional information on the constitutional amendment process and proposals considered by the 2013 Texas Legislature.