Voting Begins Tuesday for 8 Texas Constitutional Amendments

Tuesday is Election Day across Texas for what is known as a “uniform election,” in which eight proposed amendments to the state constitution will be on the ballot, including some that are direct responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight propositions (see them all listed below) appear on the ballot as a result of language passed for the amendments by the Texas Legislature during the 87th legislative session this spring.

One proposal would ban the state from prohibiting or limiting religious services, while another would allow residents in assisted living facilities to name at least one essential caregiver to ensure they will have in-person visits regardless of infection and case rates of COVID-19 in the community.

Proposition 1: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Proposition 2: “The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

As written, the Texas Constitution gives cities and towns the power to issue such bonds or notes, but counties are not granted similar authority.

Proposition 3: “The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, executive orders issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) limited the number of people who could be at most indoor public gatherings, including religious services. Under this proposed amendment, religious organizations would be exempt from any orders, proclamations or rules that limit capacity.

Proposition 4: “The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

The eligibility requirements the amendment would add, among other things, that a person is licensed to practice law in Texas and that they live in Texas at the time of election. The amendment would also change requirements to be eligible to be appointed to a position.

Proposition 5: “The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct can only accept complaints or reports on people who hold judicial office. Proposition 5 would expand that oversight to include candidates for judicial office.

Proposition 6: “The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who lived in assisted living or nursing facilities were barred from having visitors of any kind for months. Proposition 6 would allow a family to designate one caregiver who could not be prohibited from visiting the facility.

Proposition 7: “The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Proposition 8: “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 member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, the constitution as written “provides a property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services who is killed in action, but the current exemption does not include members of the military who die during their service due to injuries sustained that are not combat-related.”

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