The Texas Legislature is sending eight statewide amendments to voters in the Nov. 2 election. Measures are on taxes, the state judiciary, rodeo raffles, county-issued infrastructure bonds, and the authority to limit religious services.
If approved, the measures would change the Texas Constitution, which has been amended 507 times since its inception in 1876.
The eight amendments on the November ballot would:
- prohibit the state or any other politician subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations
- allow the Legislature to extend a homestead tax limit for surviving spouses of disabled individuals. The spouse would have to be 55 years or older at the time of the other’s death and still live at the affected home.
- change the eligibility requirements for Texas Supreme Court justice, Court of Criminal Appeals judge, Court of Appeals justice, and district judge. If passed, the amendment would require candidates for the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, or Court of Appeals to have at least 10 years’ experience practicing law in Texas or as a judge of state or county courts. Candidates for district judge would need at least eight years practicing law in Texas or as a judge of a state or county court.
- authorize the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to look into complaints against candidates for state judicial offices
- grant the Legislature the power to apply homestead tax exemptions for surviving spouses of military members killed in the line of duty. Currently, the exemption applies to spouses of military members “killed in action,” but passage of this amendment would extend it to spouses of those killed during training or other military duties.
- permit charitable raffles at rodeos, which would apply only to professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Under current law, the Legislature has such authority for many professional sports teams but not professional rodeo organizations.
- grant rights to residents of nursing and assisted-living facilities or state-supported living centers to designate an essential caregiver who may not be prohibited from visiting that person.
- give counties the ability to fund infrastructure and transportation projects in areas considered undeveloped or blighted. Under the current law, only cities and towns may issue such bonds
The last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 4. Early voting is Oct. 18-29.