Senator Carona's Email Update
[Back to Senator John Carona's Home Page]


October 1, 2009

WHAT'S NEW . . .

FOCUS . . .

On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, you will have the opportunity to vote on 11 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. These measures were approved by a two-thirds vote in the Texas House and Senate earlier this year, but must have the consent of the people of Texas to become effective. During the 81st Legislative Session, I supported all of these measures, and I plan to vote for them in November as well. Following is a brief description of each proposition along with comments "for" and "against" for your consideration.

Amendment No. 1 (HJR 132)
This amendment would authorize the financing for municipalities and counties to acquire buffer areas or open spaces adjacent to a military installation.

Amendment No. 2 (HJR 36, Article 1)
This amendment would authorize the Legislature to provide for the valuation of a residence homestead based solely on its value as a homestead, eliminating consideration of the "highest and best use". The exemption would apply solely to a primary residence homestead.

Amendment No. 3 (HJR 36, Article 3)
This amendment would provide for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes. The property tax has been solely a local tax and is primarily administered on the local level. However, the state does retain an interest in property tax appraisal professionalism and competence. This proposition would allow the Legislature to strengthen state oversight of appraisal district practices and procedures. Because the Legislature did not pass enabling legislation to implement this amendment, the Legislature would determine how to enact this amendment in a future legislative session.

Amendment No. 4 (HJR 14, Article 2)
This amendment would enable the Legislature to dedicate state revenue, such as revenue now allocated to the Higher Education Fund, to the National Research University Fund's credit in an effort to establish additional nationally-recognized research universities.

Amendment No. 5 (HJR 36, Article 2)
This amendment would authorize the Legislature to allow two or more adjoining appraisal districts, if they elect to do so, to consolidate appraisal review board functions. This amendment is permissive, allowing for appraisal districts to adopt this system.

Amendment No. 6 (HJR 116)
This amendment would authorize the Veterans' Land Board to provide for, issue and sell general obligation bonds of the state for the purpose of selling land to Texas veterans or providing them home or land mortgage loans. The proposed amendment would also remove the $500 million cap on bonds previously authorized for those purposes by prior constitutional amendments. This proposition would remove that requirement and allow the board to issue new bonds in place of those retired or redeemed.

Amendment No. 7 (HJR 127)
This amendment would allow an officer or member of the Texas State Guard or other state militia or military force to hold other civil offices. There are a list of exceptions to the dual office holding prohibition, however, at the time the exceptions were written, the Texas State Guard or other state militia or military force were either overlooked or not in existence.

Amendment No. 8 (HJR 7)
This amendment would authorize the state to contribute money, property and other resources for the establishment, maintenance and operation of hospitals for veterans in Texas.

Amendment No. 9 (HJR 102)
This amendment would protect the right of the public, collectively and individually, to access and use the public beaches bordering the seaward shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

Amendment No. 10 (HJR 85)
This amendment would limit elected members of the governing boards of emergency services districts to terms that would not exceed four years.

Amendment No. 11 (HJR 14, Article 1)
This amendment would prohibit the taking of property for certain economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes and limit the Legislature's authority to grant the power of eminent domain to an entity.

The House Research Organization and the Texas Legislative Council have provided more detailed information on the proposed constitutional amendments. These expanded analyses can be accessed at the following websites:

Election day is November 3, 2009 and the deadline to register to vote is October 5. You can find out whether or not you are registered to vote at or at the Secretary of State's voter hotline: 1-800-252-VOTE(8683). In Dallas County you can visit the Elections Department at or call 214-637-7937.

DID YOU KNOW . . . ?

October is Texas Archaeology Month (TAM). There will be a variety of activities around Texas to promote TAM, such as archaeology fairs, mock digs and rock art replication. Click here to view a calendar of TAM events.

The Texas Education Agency website offers information on Texas school districts, such as test scores, financial audits, and demographic profiles. To learn more about your school district, you can visit


The Texas Commission for the Arts is accepting applications for the Young Masters Grant Program. This program awards grants up to $2,500 per year to talented young artists to further their studies in their chosen field. Eligible students must be participating in a school-based arts program, summer institute, specialized course of study, or receiving private lessons from a qualified instructor. Students also must maintain passing grades in all academic areas.

The deadline for applications is November 15, 2009. For more detailed information, please visit the webpage for the Young Masters Grant Program.


I hope you have an opportunity to visit the State Fair of Texas (, now through October 18th, to enjoy a traditional corny dog and some great "state fair weather." While you are there, be sure to visit the Comptroller's exhibit in the Grand Place Building (near Big Tex) to see if you have any unclaimed property.


John Carona
State Senator - District 16

Capitol Office District Offices
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711
512-463-3135 (fax)
8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
214-378-5739 (fax)
5401 N. Central Expy.
Suite 300
Dallas, TX 75205
214-953-1886 (fax)