On Tuesday, November 7th, the residents of Texas can vote on seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. The seven amendments were introduced by legislators in the 85th Legislative Session. You can find brief explanations of each proposed amendment below.

Proposition 1: Homestead exemption for partially donated homes of disabled veterans. The wording on the ballot will be: “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.” To summarize, this proposition would allow an exemption for the percentage of the market value of the home equal to the veteran’s disability rating. To qualify for this partial property tax exemption, the home must be donated at some cost (no more than 50% of the estimated market value)to the partially disabled veteran.

Proposition 2: Revising home equity loan provisions. The wording on the ballot will be: “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 of home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.” If this proposition passes, the changes would include: lowering the cap on fees that may be charged when making a home equity loan, allow the refinancing of home equity loans into non-home equity loans, revise a provision governing home equity lines of credit, and amend the list of the types of approved lenders.

Proposition 3: Limited terms for certain appointees of the governor. The wording on the ballot will be: “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.” Non-paid appointees currently serve/perform their duties (past the expiration date of their term) until a successor is fully prepared to take the position. This proposition proposes to change the expiration date of service for appointees to the final day of the regular Legislative Session regardless if their successors are ready to take over the position.

Proposition 4: Court notice to attorney general of constitutional challenge to state laws. The wording on the ballot will be: “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.” If this proposition passes, the Legislature would have the authority to require courts to notify the Texas Attorney General of any lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of state legislation. The Legislator would also be able to restrict the court from entering a judgment that deems the statute unconstitutional for up to 45 days post-notice from the court.

Proposition 5: Amending eligibility requirements for sport team charitable raffles. The wording on the ballot will be: “The constitutional amendment on professional sports team charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.” This proposition would give more professional sports team charitable foundations eligibility to conduct charitable raffles. The entities included are: a Texas team that was a member of the Women’s National Basketball Association, National Basketball Association Development League, Minor League Baseball, American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, National Women’s Soccer League, Major Arena Soccer League, or the United Soccer League; a person hosting an event sanctioned by NASCAR, INDYCar, or another nationally recognized motorsports racing association at certain Texas venues; an organization hosting a Professional Golf Association (PGA) event; or any other professional sports team defined by law.

Proposition 6: Homestead exemptions for surviving spouses of certain first responders. The wording on the ballot will be: “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 first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.” If passed, this proposition will give the Legislature the ability to give a partial or total homestead (property tax) exemption to the surviving spouse of a first responder who was killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. If the spouse has remarried since the first responder’s death, they will not quality for this exemption. If the surviving spouse moves into a new home after they receive this exemption, the Legislature could grant an exemption for the new home that is equal to the dollar amount of the exemption of the previous home within a year from when the exemption was initially received.

Proposition 7: Authorizing Legislature to allow banks to hold raffles promoting savings. The wording on the ballot will be: “The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.” This proposition would erase the restriction on credit unions and other financial institutions barring them from hosting raffles. If passed, the credit unions and other financial institutions will be able to host raffles that encourage their customers to establish/grow their savings. Prizes (by lot) could be awarded, as well.

To make well-informed votes, we must educate ourselves on the changes proposed. For more information on these propositions, please visit House Research Organization – Amendments Proposed. This site includes more details and specifics on each amendment. You have access to the arguments for and against each amendment on the website, as well.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672