Polls open for Nov. 3 general election
By LPR Staff
Early voting started Monday on a series of amendments to the Texas Constitution as suggested by the Texas Legislature during their last session.
One of the most flexible documents in American history, the Texas Constitution has been amended 456 times since its adoption in 1876. Over the years, the Texas Legislature has
proposed a whopping 632 amendments to the document, 176 of which have been defeated by Texas voters.
In large part, the Texas Constitution is different than other like documents, because it does not allow the government any power not expressly granted in the Constitution. Therefore, unless the Constitution is amended to allow certain activities, they are expressly prohibited.
Eleven more amendments have come forward this year, in an election which, according to Caldwell County election official Mary Vicky Gonzales, promises to be sparsely attended by Caldwell County voters. So limited are her expectations for voter turnout, in fact, that Gonzales requested the Commissioners’ Court close several Election Day polling places, consolidating election day openings and alleviating the need for a full staff of election judges.
This year’s Constitutional Amendment Election fare includes:
This constitutional amendment seeks to allow municipal and county governments to purchase “buffer land” surrounding military installments. If passed, it is hoped this amendment will allow local governments to benefit from tax revenues generated near military bases, and will protect the bases from development of roads at their borders.
If passed, this amendment will allow the Legislature to allow for ad valorem taxation of a residence as a homestead, based strictly on the property’s value as a home, and not on the property’s potential value under another use.
Working toward a topic that has been the center of heated debate for several legislative sessions, passage of Proposition 3 would set out uniform standards and procedures for appraisal districts, and strengthen government oversight of appraisal districts statewide.
With this amendment, the legislature seeks to create a fund to help state-funded universities perform research and development projects.
Again focusing on appraisal districts, Proposition 5, if passed, would allow adjoining appraisal districts to merge appraisal review boards, if they so choose. For instance, a property owner with property that is taxed by both the Caldwell and Hays County Appraisal Districts would currently have to appear before both Appraisal Review Boards to protest property valuations. However, if the boards were consolidated and split their administrative functions, the property owner would only have to make one such appearance.
This amendment will increase the ability of the Veteran’s Land Board to issue general obligation bonds.
Under current law, members of the Texas State Guard and other military organizations are unable to hold more than one “office of emolument,” or civil office for which payment is received. Passage of Proposition 7 will allow for members of the Texas State Guard to hold other civil offices, as well.
If passed, Proposition 8 will grant the State of Texas the authority to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide medical care for Texas veterans. Currently, the state is not authorized to contribute to a veterans’ hospital.
Proposition 9, if passed, will help clarify the public’s right to use the beaches and waterways in the Coastal Bend.
If passed, Proposition 10 will place a limit on the terms of service for members of Emergency Service Districts’ boards of directors.
Perhaps the most relevant issue on the ballot to Caldwell County voters, Proposition 11 would set limits on the government’s ability to seize property through eminent domain. Specifically, if passed, this amendment will protect private property if the property is meant to be taken specifically for enhanced tax revenue or economic development.
Early voting in the Nov. 3, 2009, election continues until Oct. 30, 2009, at the Caldwell County Tax Office, 100 E. Market St., in Lockhart. See next week’s Post-Register for a full list of Election Day polling places.