A Guide to the 2009 Constitutional Amendments
Part 1 of 2, Covering Propositions 1-6
Most things are either bigger or better in this great state we all call home. It is perhaps unsurprising then, and certainly fitting, that the Texas Constitution resides as one of the largest constitutions in the nation. What many do find surprising, though, is the fact that despite dating back to 1876, all of the state’s operations rely upon the document. In Texas, unlike the vast majority of other states, government is afforded only those powers expressly granted to it by the Constitution.
As your state Senator, I am often asked why so many amendments are proposed every few years. In large part, the answer is that our Constitution was designed to be very restrictive, a condition that necessitates continual modification to ensure all necessary constitutional authority accompanies changes to state law. Innovation and advancement in business and technology over the last 131 years offers further explanation of why the Texas Constitution has so often been revisited.
On November 3rd of this year, Texas voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against each of the eleven proposed constitutional amendments approved by the 81st Texas Legislature. Below please find a brief summary for each of the first six proposed constitutional amendments. Descriptions of the other five proposed constitutional amendments will follow in a later column. I strongly encourage every Texas voter to take the time to review the amendments and go vote.
Proposition 1 - House Joint Resolution 132
Proposition 1 seeks to authorize municipalities or counties, with the legislature's approval, to issue bonds or notes to finance the purchase of a buffer area or open space neighboring a military installation. These buffer zones will prevent encroachment or allow for the construction of roadways, utilities, or other infrastructure to protect or promote the mission of the military installation. Additionally, this measure would allow a municipality or county to pledge increases in property tax revenues imposed in the area by the municipality, county, or other political subdivisions to the repayment of the bonds or notes.
Proposition 2 - House Joint Resolution 36, Article 1
Proposition 2 would authorize the legislature to provide for valuation of a residence homestead solely on the basis of its value as a homestead, regardless of whether residential use by the owner is considered to be the highest and best use of the property.
Proposition 3 - House Joint Resolution 36, Article 3
Proposition 3 would allow the legislature to strengthen state oversight of appraisal district's practices and procedures.
Proposition 4 - House Joint Resolution 14, Article 2
Texas lags behind other major states in the number of nationally recognized research universities, with only two public research universities of national prominence--The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.
This measure would create the national research university fund for the purpose of providing a dedicated, independent, and equitable source of funding to enable emerging state research universities in Texas to achieve national prominence as major research universities.
Proposition 5 - House Joint Resolution 36, Article 2
Under current law, an appraisal district conducts property tax appraisals for all taxing units in its jurisdictions. Moreover, the Texas Constitution requires the legislature to provide for a single board of equalization, otherwise referred to as an appraisal review board, that consists of qualified residents of the territory appraised by that entity. The appraisal district and the appraisal review board that reviews the district's appraisals are separate and distinct entities, however, split administrative functions.
Proposition 5 would provide for two or more adjoining appraisal districts, if they so opt, to consolidate appraisal review board functions.
Proposition 6 - House Joint Resolution 116
Proposition 6 seeks to provide the secure and sufficient bonding authority needed by the Veterans' Land Board to continue the Veterans' Housing Assistance Program and Veterans' Land Program.
Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. Senate District 18 is made up of nineteen counties and spans over 16,000 square miles. He is a sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming rice and corn on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800's. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.