Tax Breaks for Veterans and First Responders Among 7 Amendments on the November Ballot
SAN ANGELO, TX — Early voting for the November 7 Constitutional Amendment election begins in less that two weeks on Monday, Oct. 23 and only about one in ten registered Texas voters is expected to cast a ballot.
Statewide turnout for the 2015 Constitutional Amendment election was 11.34 percent according to the Secretary of State’s office. That means almost 90 percent of registered voters likely will not cast a ballot in November allowing 10 percent of voters who participate to decide what proposed amendments become law.
Constitutional amendment elections are held every other year after the Texas legislature meets. Lawmakers pass measures to put before voters which if passed become law as amendments to the Texas Constitution.
This election there are two propositions allowing property tax exemptions for partially-disabled veterans and also the surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. There is an amendment dealing with how long appointed officials can remain in office after their term expires.
There is an amendment dealing with home equity loans, and one allowing professional sports teams' charitable foundations to operate raffles.
Voters headed to the polls will have to have an acceptable form of photo ID. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there are seven approved forms of ID;
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
- Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
- United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
Voters without one of those types of ID have options as well. The Secretary of State’s office says, “As provided by court order, if a voter does not possess and is not reasonably able to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, the voter may vote by (1) signing a declaration at the polls explaining why the voter is reasonably unable to obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID, and (2) providing one of various forms of supporting documentation.
Supporting documentation can be a certified birth certificate (must be an original), a valid voter registration certificate, a copy or original of one of the following: current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, although government documents which include a photo must be original and cannot be copies. If a voter meets these requirements and is otherwise eligible to vote, the voter will be able to cast a regular ballot in the election.”
Here’s a complete list of the seven constitutional amendments on the November 7 ballot:
Proposition 1 would allow the Texas State Legislature to pass bills to provide partially-disabled veterans or their surviving spouses with a property tax exemption if the veteran's home was donated to him or her by a charity for less than market value. The tax exemption would be equal to the percentage that the veteran is partially disabled. Proposition 1 would not itself provide a tax exemption, but would authorize the legislature to create one.
Proposition 2 would make changes to the provision allowing homeowners to enter into voluntary liens with financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, or mortgage bankers to secure home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. The measure would make four changes to the law. The measure would be applicable to home equity loans or lines of credit made or refinanced on or after January 1, 2018.
Proposition 3 would make an exception to the requirement that appointed officials serve until their successors are qualified. As of 2017, appointed officials can remain in office past the expiration of their terms until their successors are appointed and qualified.
Proposition 4 would authorize the Texas State Legislature to require courts to inform the state attorney general of a legal challenge to the constitutionality of a state law. The measure would also allow the legislature to require a waiting period of not more than 45 days after a judge notifies the attorney general before the judge can rule a state law unconstitutional.
Proposition 5 would expand the definition of professional sports team to include certain minor league sports teams, motorsports racing teams, Professional Golf Association events, and other teams as defined by law. In 2015, voters passed Proposition 4, which authorized professional sports team charitable foundations in existence on January 1, 2016, to operate charitable raffles. Proposition 5 of 2017 would remove this requirement that foundations had been in existence in 2016. The Proposition 4 of 2015 defined professional sports teams as major league sports teams as well.
Proposition 6 would allow the state legislature to create a property tax exemption for the surviving spouses of police officers, firefighters, and other first responders killed in the line of duty. Proposition 6 would not itself provide a tax exemption, but would authorize the legislature to create one. In May 2017, the legislature passed Senate Bill 15 (SB 15) to authorize a tax exemption that would take effect if voters approve Proposition 6 on November 7, 2017. SB 15 would entitle a surviving spouse to a 100 percent exemption from taxes on the value of his or her house. SB 15 would also define terms used in Proposition 6 such as first responder, and allow surviving spouses to move into new homes with the same exemption as their houses at the time of the first responder’s death. Both Proposition 6 and SB 15 would make a surviving spouse who remarried after the first responder's death ineligible for the tax exemption.
Proposition 7 would authorize the Texas State Legislature to allow financial institutions to conduct raffles to promote savings. Proposition 7 does not itself legalize these raffles. Rather, House Bill 471 (HB 471), which the legislature approved, would allow savings promotion raffles and provide rules for them if voters approve HJR 37. HB 471 is referred to as the implementing legislation for HJR 37. If voters reject this amendment, HB 471 would not go into effect.
Early voting for the November Constitutional Amendment Election runs from Monday, Oct. 23 to Friday, Nov. 3. Election day is Tuesday Nov. 7.