Column from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013
Contact: Sydni Mitchell
(512) 463-0103

My five cents...
by Sen. Robert Nichols, Senate District 3

Fall brings the hope of cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, time with family and one of my favorite fall traditions...hunting season. Whether you are into archery, rifles, ducks or deer, East Texas has something for everyone.

1. Constitutional amendments 101

On November 5th, Texans have an opportunity to take part in one of the most important parts of our political system by heading to the polls to vote on nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Through its 16 articles, including a Bill of Rights, the Constitution establishes the purposes and limits for our state government.

Amendments to the constitution must be supported by both chambers with a vote from two-thirds of the members, meaning at least 100 out of 150 votes in the Texas House and 21 out of 31 votes in the Texas Senate. The proposed amendments must then be sent to the voters and receive the majority vote to become a part of our Texas Constitution.

For more information on the nine constitutional amendments coming up for a vote on November 5th please visit www.tlc.state.tx.us/const_amends.htm.

2. A SWIFT water plan

Texas has been named the top U.S. state in which to do business by various groups over the past few years. A gap begins to form between the amount of resources available and the projected demand for water as more and more people are moving to Texas for jobs and new businesses. If passed, Proposition 6 will create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and two billion dollars will be transferred from the state's Rainy Day Fund to SWIFT to finance projects in the State Water Plan. SWIFT will help to put an emphasis on conservation, reuse and rural projects in the hope that we can continue our legacy of being one of the strongest state economies in the U.S.

3. Proposition 1 and 4

Two amendments that will be presented to the voters in November involve property tax exemptions related to military service. If passed, Proposition 1 would allow the surviving spouse of a U.S. armed service member, who was killed in action, to be exempt from paying local property taxes for all or part of the market value of their home. Proposition 4 would provide a property tax exemption on a home that was donated by a charitable organization to a partially or fully disabled veteran or their surviving spouse. These two propositions are a way that we as a state can honor and recognize the sacrifices of these brave men and women and their families.

4. Have your photo ready

Voters will be required to show photo identification when they go to the polls beginning with early voting on October 21st. With the exception of a U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before it is presented at a polling location. Voters can use IDs that do not match the name on their voter registration exactly, but they will be required to sign an affidavit stating they are the same person.

Some of the approved forms of identification include:

Any voter who is over the age of 65 and those with a disability may vote by mail and are not required to have a photo ID.

If you have not registered to vote or have questions about your registration, I encourage you to go to www.votetexas.gov or call 1.800.252.VOTE (8683) before the October 7th deadline.

5. Friday Night Lights

Fall and the familiar glow of stadium lights at your local high school on a Friday night seem to go hand in hand. With 102 school districts in Senate District 3, we are lucky to have many teams to cheer for in the upcoming weeks. Did you know that since 2000 the high school football teams in East Texas have won a cumulative 10 state championships, spanning over all divisions? I look forward to seeing more championships brought home to East Texas and I encourage you to get out and support our students at their next sporting event.

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