From the Office of State Senator John Carona


The following is a list of the Constitutional Amendments that will be on the November 2, 1999 ballot for voter approval or rejection. The pros and cons were compiled from information obtained from the Senate Research Center, Texas Legislative Council, and the House Research Organization.

PROPOSITION 1: This amendment would provide for the filling of a vacancy in the office of governor or lieutenant governor.
PRO: Would clarify that the lieutenant governor cannot hold both offices when filling a permanent vacancy in the governorship.
CON: Unnecessary as all four previous successions to the governorship under the current Constitution have taken place without question that the Senate chooses one of its own to be the new lieutenant governor.

PROPOSITION 2: This amendment would make changes for the carrying out of advances under and payment of a reverse mortgage.
PRO: Would provide house-rich but cash-poor elderly homeowners the opportunity to supplement their monthly income through proceeds from the equity in their home.
CON: Still makes reverse mortgages unnecessarily restrictive which could inflate the interest rate for these loans.

PROPOSITION 3: This amendment would eliminate duplicative, executed, obsolete, archaic, and ineffective constitutional provisions.
PRO: Would make no substantive changes but would help streamline the Texas Constitution by deleting obsolete provisions and those inconsistent with federal law.
CON: Rather than amend and repeal specific outdated sections, it would make more sense to overhaul the entire document.

PROPOSITION 4: This amendment would authorize the exemption from ad valorem taxation of property owned by institutions engaged primarily in public charitable functions.
PRO: Would clear up inconsistencies and questions about whether legitimate charities that now receive property tax exemptions may engage in auxiliary activities without jeopardizing their tax exempt status.
CON: Tax exemptions for organizations that are not purely charitable are inappropriate and will erode the tax base.

PROPOSITION 5: This amendment would allow state employees serving as members of local governing boards to be compensated for their service.
PRO: Removing this prohibition would increase the pool of qualified candidates for local government offices such as school districts, cities, towns, or other offices.
CON: When a person serves in two government offices, a conflict will inevitably arise regarding the amount of time available to do both jobs well.

PROPOSITION 6: This amendment would increase the maximum size of an urban homestead to 10 acres from the current one acre limit, would prescribe permissible uses of urban homesteads, and would prevent the overburdening of a homestead.
PRO: Would extend to more Texans the right and freedom to use their property as security for a home equity loan.
CON: Would expand home equity lending to primarily benefit the wealthy who build expensive homes on large tracts of land within urban areas.

PROPOSITION 7: This amendment would authorize the garnishment of wages for enforcement of court-ordered spousal maintenance.
PRO: Would give Texas the authority that 45 other states already use as an effective tool to enforce court-ordered spousal support by threatening the delinquent spouse with jail time or a lien against their property.
CON: Would place an additional burden on employers and weaken Texas' longstanding protection from garnishment of a wage earner's paycheck, except for child support.

PROPOSITION 8: This amendment would provide that the adjutant general serves at the pleasure of the governor.
PRO: By combining the potential for a longer term with additional oversight by the governor, this change would help the adjutant general provide better leadership over the state's military forces.
CON: Would severely limit legislative oversight of the adjutant general by eliminating reappointment and confirmation by the State Senate.

PROPOSITION 9: This amendment would allow the legislature to create a judicial compensation commission to make recommendations for judicial salaries that become law if neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives rejects the recommendations by majority vote.
PRO: Would create an independent panel to study salaries and set an appropriate level so that Texas could continue to attract and retain high-quality judges.
CON: Would grant authority to a commission that is best reserved for the legislature.

PROPOSITION 10: This amendment would provide that the person serving as the commissioner of health and human services serves at the pleasure of the governor.
PRO: Since the legislature significantly increased the powers and duties of this office, the term should not be limited to two years and the oversight of the position should be increased by making the commissioner accountable to the governor.
CON: Would severely limit legislative oversight of a commissioner who supervises critical agencies with combined budgets of $20 billion.

PROPOSITION 11: This amendment would permit a political subdivision to purchase property and casualty insurance from a mutual insurance company authorized to do business in this state.
PRO: Would allow a political subdivision to shop for insurance from a wider range of insurers, taking advantage of competition.
CON: Creating this exception is not necessary since there is no obvious lack of competition or widespread demand by political subdivisions to obtain this coverage from mutual insurance companies.

PROPOSITION 12: This amendment would provide for the exemption of ad valorem taxes of certain leased motor vehicles not held primarily for the production of income.
PRO: Would eliminate a business tax on personally-leased vehicles to provide for the same tax treatment as personally-owned vehicles.
CON: Would create a special class of personal property exempt from ad valorem taxes.

PROPOSITION 13: This amendment would provide for the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance educational loans to students.
PRO: Would authorize additional funds for student loans as a reasonable means to offset increasing college tuition and fees which prevents some from attending college.
CON: The state should not add an additional $400 million in bonded debt simply to compete with private lenders.

PROPOSITION 14: This amendment would authorize the legislature to provide that certain state boards, commissions, or other agencies shall be governed by a board composed of an odd number of three or more members.
PRO: Would clear up confusion that now exists about the legislature's authority to change the composition of a board or commission that is not divisible by three to allow for reasonably-sized boards.
CON: Further complicates an outdated provision that is already needlessly complex.

PROPOSITION 15: This amendment would permit the conversion of separate property to community property if spouses agree in writing that all or part of the separate property owned by either or both of them shall be the spouses' community property.
PRO: Would provide Texas spouses more freedom in disposing of their separate property and greater flexibility in managing their finances.
CON: Could lead to unintended problems if the marriage ends in divorce.

PROPOSITION 16: This amendment would provide for the number of precincts that certain counties must create for justices of the peace and constables.
PRO: Would give counties with populations between 30,000 and 50,000 flexibility in deciding whether or not to increase the minimum number of JP and constable precincts.
CON: Would allow certain counties to avoid increasing the number of JPs and constables even though population growth justified the need for the services of additional JP courts.

PROPOSITION 17: This amendment would authorize the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System to manage any kind of investment of the Permanent University Fund in accordance with the standards of a prudent investor, and change the distribution from the Permanent University Fund to the Available University Fund.
PRO: Would update the distribution and investment policies under which the Permanent University Fund and the Available University Fund operate in an effort to increase earnings.
CON: Any capital gains from the Permanent University Fund should be reinvested rather than distributed to the Available University Fund.