E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
A Constitutional Amendment Election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2007, with early voting beginning today. Each of the 16 proposed amendments you will find on your ballot were adopted by at least a two-thirds vote of both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives; but now you must cast your vote. The language on the ballot can be very technical and sometimes confusing, so I am providing you with a brief description of each proposition to assist you.
Proposition 1 provides for the continued appropriation for facilities and capital items at Angelo State University. Angelo State University is being transferred from the Texas State University System to the Texas Tech University System. The proposed amendment would ensure the previously allocated constitutional appropriations to Angelo State University will follow the transfer.
Proposition 2 provides for the issuance of $500 million in general obligation bonds to finance educational loans to students. In addition, it authorizes bond enhancement agreements with respect to general obligation bonds issued for that purpose.
Proposition 3 is a constitutional amendment, which limits the annual increase in the appraised value of a residential homestead. Under current law, when homeowner's primary residence is appraised for property taxes, the appraised value cannot be increased by more than 10% for each year since the previous appraisal. However, appraisal districts can wait as long as three years between appraisals, so homeowners face up to a 30% increase in the home's taxable value all at once, if three years have passed since the last appraisal.
Proposition 3 would provide the relief originally intended by the Texas Legislature. The intention was to set a maximum value increase at 10% in any year, regardless of the number of years since the property was last appraised. However, the law has been interpreted to say that the cap is 10% multiplied by the number of years since the last appraisal. Proposition 3 would protect homeowners from "sticker shock," by limiting the amount that an appraisal could increase to 10%, regardless of the number of years since the last appraisal.
Proposition 4 would authorize the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds payable from the general state revenues for maintenance, improvement, repair and construction projects and the purchase of equipment. These funds would be issued to the Texas Building and Procurement Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Department of Health Services, Department of Aging and Disability Services, School for the Blind and for the Deaf, Texas Youth Commission, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Department of Public Safety.
Proposition 5 would authorize the Texas Legislature to permit voters living in cities with a population of less than 10,000 to allow the city's governing body to enter into an agreement with an owner of real property, in or adjacent to an area that has been approved for funding under programs administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The amendment would allow city governments to help those owners whose buildings are in disrepair, and who are receiving grants from the state. These owners would not receive an increase in their property taxes for five years after the agreement is signed.
Proposition 6 would authorize the Legislature to exempt from ad valorem tax one motor vehicle used for both professional-related and personal activities.
Proposition 7 would allow governmental entities to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owners at the price paid to acquire the property.
When a governmental entity uses the power of eminent domain to take property, the owner must receive adequate compensation. If the property is not used for the public purpose intended before the 10th year, the taker must offer to sell the property back to the owner for the fair market value of the property at the time the public use is cancelled.
Proposition 7 would allow property owners to repurchase property at the price they were paid for it, rather than the fair market value at the time the public use project is cancelled.
Proposition 8 would clarify provisions relating to home equity loans, in an effort to provide stronger protections for consumers.
Proposition 9 would authorize the legislature to exempt all or part of the residential homesteads of certain 100 % disabled veterans from ad valorem taxation. It would authorize a change in the formula used to determine the tax exemption to which a disabled veteran is entitled.
Proposition 10 would abolish the constitutional authority for the office of inspector of hides and animals. This office dates back to the days of cattle drives, but it was actually abolished by law in 2006. The proposition would remove the office from the Texas Constitution, as well.
Proposition 11 would require that a record vote be taken by a house of the legislature on final passage of any bill, with the exception of certain local bills and ceremonial resolutions. The results would then be published on the Internet.
Proposition 12 is a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds by the Texas Transportation Commission to provide funding for highway improvement projects; the amount would not exceed $5 billion.
The proposed amendment would help the state finance transportation projects, as there are not enough funds to cover existing and future transportation needs. An expanding population has created the need to spend more on transportation projects and maintenance to correct existing and future problems relating to traffic congestion. The state would then repay the bonds with payments made from the first money coming into the state treasury each year.
Proposition 13 would authorize the denial of bail to a person who violates certain court orders or conditions of release in a felony family violence case.
Proposition 14 would permit a justice or judge who reaches the mandatory retirement age, while in office, to serve the remainder of their current term.
Proposition 15 calls for the creation of The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizes the issuance of up to $300 million a year for 10 years in bonds to be used for cancer research in Texas. The resources from Proposition 15 will be used to find causes and cures for cancer over the next decade and expand current programs funded by the Texas Cancer Council. These monies will also allow Texas to recruit first-rate researchers to study prevention, detection and treatment procedures of cancer.
Proposition 15 would make Texas one of the world's foremost leaders in cancer research and prevention.
Proposition 16 authorizes the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $250 million in general obligation bonds to assist economically distressed areas within Texas.
Please exercise your civic duty this election day, and cast your vote. As always, I also ask that you contact me with any questions or concerns. It is your input that allows me to be an effective legislator.
For more information on any of the above propositions, please visit:
HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6605 - fax