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 – It will be up to Texas voters to decide in the Nov. 5 election whether or not nine amendments proposed by the Texas Legislature should be added to the Texas Constitution.
“The issues at stake affect all Texans now and in the future, from property tax exemptions to funding the water state plan” according to LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair, Linda Krefting. “Given the significance of the issues and relative permanence of constitutional amendments, voters need to understand each of the propositions to cast an informed vote.”
Two proposed amendments involve property tax exemptions related to military service. Proposition 1 on the ballot would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who was killed in action to be exempt from paying local property taxes based on all or part of the total appraised value of the homestead.
Representative Chris Turner, the legislative author, says, “Proposition 1 will provide a 100 percent property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of service members killed in service to country. It’s a small but meaningful way we can help and thank the Texas families who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and our freedoms.”
Those with reservations about whether voters should approve Proposition 1 are concerned that local governments would lose revenue, especially in cities and towns with large numbers of military families, and might have to increase taxes for other taxpayers.
Proposition 4 on the ballot would provide a partial homestead property tax exemption to a partially disabled veteran or surviving spouse, if the homestead has been donated by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran. The percentage of the exemption would be equal to the percentage of disability of the veteran. Veterans who are 100 percent disabled, and their surviving spouses, are already eligible for a 100 percent exemption.
Legislative author Rep. Charles Perry says Proposition 4, “removes barriers communities and organizations face when helping out our disabled veterans by taking away the tax burden associated with the gift of a home” allowing those who sacrificed defending our freedoms to heal focusing “on their dreams, career and family without the worry of losing their home.”
Others might be concerned that singling out one group for special tax exemption status, even though deserving, raises issues of uniformity in taxation and could open the door to continued erosion of the tax base.
The nonpartisan LWV-Texas Education Fund Voters Guide for the Constitutional Amendment Election with the ballot language, an explanationand 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.