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Constitutional Amendment Election: Four Propositions to Affect Counties

By Nanette Forbes
TAC Legislative Staff

During the 82nd Legislative Session, 10 joint resolutions were passed proposing amendments to the state constitution. Four of these are of specific interest to counties. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, voters will go to the polls to vote for or against the proposed amendments. The four propositions are listed as follows:

Proposition No. 1 – (SJR 14, Article 8) by Van de Putte (C. Anderson)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.”

Proposition No. 1 would authorize the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran to receive a property tax exemption of all or part of the market value of a residence homestead property to which the disabled veteran’s exemption applied, as well as a subsequent homestead property in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the previous exemption from the previous year, under certain circumstances.

Proposition No. 4 – (HJR 63, Article 8) by Pickett (Wentworth)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.”

Proposition No. 4 would amend the Texas Constitution, Art. 8, sec. 1-g(b) to add counties to the political entities authorized to pledge increased property taxes to bonds issued for redeveloping property in a particular area. This would enhance counties’ ability to designate transportation reinvestment zones, providing an important financing tool to expand and improve transportation options.

Proposition No. 5 – (SJR 26, Article 11) by West (Turner)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.”

Proposition No. 5 permits local governments to enter into extended interlocal contracts for joint projects. Under current law, multi-year agreements between counties and cities for joint projects require imposition of a tax or the creation of a sinking fund. This limits local governments from jointly financing and operating extended consolidated services — such as criminal justice buildings, animal shelters and equipment maintenance facilities. The proposition would change that to allow such consolidated projects, which could save taxpayers money. By pledging the revenues from these programs, the cities and counties will not need to levy additional taxes to secure these programs.

Proposition No. 10 – (SJR 37, Article 16) by Van de Putte (Van Taylor)

“The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.”

Certain district and county officers who announce their candidacy for an office they do not currently hold when they have more than one year remaining in their term will force an automatic resignation from office. Proposition 10 would extend the “resign-to-run” provision to not exceed one year and 30 days.

Amendments Proposed for November 2011 Ballot,” a publication by the House Research Organization (HRO), provides a digest of each proposition on the ballot, including information from supporters and opponents.

Another good source for information on the proposed constitutional amendments is a publication produced by the Texas Legislative Council, “Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments.”