From the Office of State Senator John Carona

Constitutional Amendments on the November 4, 1997, Election Ballot

The following is a list of the constitutional amendments that will be on the November 4 election ballot for voter approval or rejection:

Proposition 1: Permitting municipal judges to hold office in more than one city.
Pro:      This change would be of particular benefit to small municipalities in which a judge may be needed for only a few days a month.
Con:      A judge that serves more than one municipality is not a resident of each municipality in which he serves.

Proposition 2: Limiting increases in homestead appraised values; allowing retroactive portability of the 65-plus tax freeze.
Pro:      The limitation would protect homeowners from dramatic increases in their property tax rates. The portability provision would authorize school districts to allow elderly homeowners who have recently changed residences to maintain their previously frozen school tax rate.
Con:      A limit on appraisal increases would only shift the tax burden to other taxpayers. Retroactive application of the 65-plus tax freeze would impose an administrative burden on school districts.

Proposition 3: Providing property tax exemptions for water conservation initiatives.
Pro:      Providing a property tax exemption would encourage landowners to invest in measures that reduce the amount of water used on their property and thereby conserve the state's limited water supply.
Con:      Because each local government would make the decision on the tax exemptions, inconsistent treatment from one taxing jurisdiction to the next could occur.

Proposition 4: Eliminating certain provisions from the Texas Constitution.
Pro:      This amendment would eliminate several outdated, obsolete, and superseded provisions from the Constitution.
Con:      The amendment does not go far enough in removing unnecessary and outmoded provisions.

Proposition 5: Allowing the Texas Supreme Court to meet outside Austin.
Pro:      Conducting certain oral arguments in various areas of the state would be educational to the Court, attorneys, and the general public.
Con:      The Court has conducted business solely in Austin, the State Capitol, for many years, and there is no compelling reason to change this practice.

Proposition 6: Eliminating the Texas Growth Fund South Africa investment disclosure requirement.
Pro:      The disclosure requirement was adopted to object to South Africa's system of apartheid. This system no longer exists; therefore, the requirement should be repealed.
Con:      None known.

Proposition 7: Allowing the Texas Water Development Board to transfer existing bond authorizations for water supply, water quality, flood control, or state participation from one category to another.
Pro:      This amendment would give the Texas Water Development Board greater flexibility in financing critically needed water projects.
Con:      The Board should not be able to transfer bonding authority already approved by voters for one purpose to another, different purpose.

Proposition 8: Allowing home equity loans.
Pro:      A homeowner should be able to use the value of the person's home for purposes such as starting a business or paying education expenses without being required to sell the home to gain access to this value. The proposed amendment contains many safeguards to ensure that homestead mortgage lending would not be abused.
Con:      The protection of a person's homestead from forced sale for payment of most debts has been included in the state's constitution since the original constitution of 1845, and the state has an obligation to continue this protection.

Proposition 9: Permitting Harris County rural fire districts to increase tax rates.
Pro:      The present three-cent limit is inadequate to meet the needs of residents in Harris County rural fire prevention districts.
Con:      Adoption of higher tax rates by rural fire prevention districts would increase the overall tax burden for certain Harris County residents.

Proposition 10: Dedicating Crime Victims' Compensation funds in the Texas Constitution.
Pro:      This amendment would prevent any future legislatures from redirecting these funds for any purpose or project other than crime victims' assistance.
Con:      Constitutionally dedicating these funds would prohibit the Legislature from making use of this money to benefit other equally worthy state interests.

Proposition 11: Limiting state debt in the Texas Constitution.
Pro:      This amendment would give constitutional authority to current state law that limits state debt.
Con:      A constitutional limitation on state debt may not be able to handle unexpected or emergency situations, such as natural disasters.

Proposition 12: Establishing a 180-day deadline for Texas Supreme Court action on motions for rehearing.
Pro:      The 180-day deadline would ensure that the resolution of lawsuits would not be unreasonably delayed because a motion for a rehearing to the Texas Supreme Court is left pending.
Con:      Supreme Court justices should have the discretion to extend the consideration of a motion for rehearing if the situation warrants.

Proposition 13: Establishing full faith and credit backing for the Texas Tomorrow Fund.
Pro:      Investors need assurance that their investments in the Texas Tomorrow Fund will remain secure until the beneficiaries are able to take advantage of them.
Con:      The Texas Tomorrow Fund should be continued only as long as it is a viable fund that is able to fund itself without constitutional protection.

Proposition 14: Authorizing the Legislature to establish constable qualifications.
Pro:      The Legislature needs to have the flexibility to prescribe minimum qualifications for constables to allow for the changing role of law enforcement and to ensure public safety.
Con:      This amendment is not necessary because under court interpretations, the Legislature may already set or change the qualifications for constables.

I urge District 16 residents to vote. Remember, it's your rights and your money that are at issue. I welcome anyone who would like additional information on any of the amendments that will appear on the November 4, 1997, ballot to contact my office on our toll-free number: (800)662-0334. We would be glad to assist you however we can.