Wilson County News
TEA'd Off Americans blog header
Wilson County News • 1012 C St • Floresville • TX • 78114 • Ph: 830-216-4519 • Fax: 830-393-3219 • Email:
Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Login
Not a subscriber? Click here.
Are you a WCN subscriber?
Set up your password.

 
E-Mail
Password
  Remember me
 
  Forgot password?
La Vernia News
Google
Google

Preview the Paper
Preview this week's Paper

TEA'd Off Americans

TCG recommendations for voting on Amendments




E-Mail this Story to a Friend
Print this Story

Disclaimer:
The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
October 20, 2011 | 2214 views | 4 comments

TCG (Texans for Constitutional Government) has researched the upcoming Nov 8th Constitutional Amendment election and offers the following information/recommendations.

Synopsis: The information in this email is quite lengthy. In this synopsis, we simply offer our opinion as to whether or not the Amendments should pass, yes or no. For the relatively detailed information obtained by our research supporting our recommendation, please continue reading below for the Amendment in question.

Summary: TCG reached unanimous agreement on all amendments with the exception of Amendment 6. The majority agrees that Amendment 6 should be approved, but there is a minority who disapprove of Amendment 6 passing. Please keep this in mind when deciding on Amendment 6.

Amendment 1 -- Yes
Amendment 2 -- No
Amendment 3 -- No
Amendment 4 -- No
Amendment 5 -- Yes
Amendment 6 -- Yes *
Amendment 7 -- No
Amendment 8 -- No
Amendment 9 -- No
Amendment 10 -- Yes


Explanatory Statements for the November 8, 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election

Proposition Number 1 (SJR 14): SJR 14 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to provide the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran with an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried, the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the qualifying veteran died, and the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran."

TCG Position: Yes (really OK) -- There are very few 100 % or totally disabled veterans. This is a nice gesture and will have very little impact. Some may say that on principle the state should not provide for new property tax exemptions at a time when essential services are underfunded. TCG believes it is OK to set aside exemptions for heroes who made the penultimate sacrifice (100% disability), especially when there are so few of them and this gesture will have little impact while allowing the surviving spouse to move to a different home without losing the exemption.

Proposition Number 2 (SJR 4): SJR 4 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Water Development Board to issue additional general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for one or more accounts of the Texas Water Development Fund II, with the restriction that the total amount of bonds outstanding at any time does not exceed $6 billion.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”

TCG Position: No -- TCG believes that on principle, the Texas Water Development Board should not be able to issue additional general obligation bonds, ultimately raising our taxes. Raising our taxes or any revenue generating action is the sole responsibility of the legislature. The Texas Water Development Board is authorized by Sec. 50-d of the Texas Constitution but is technically an arm of the executive branch (all members are appointed by the Governor of Texas) not by the legislature. We believe that if funding for implementation of the state water plan is inadequate, then it should be a budget priority and fully funded in the biennial state budget, paid for by defunding a lower priority budget item.

Proposition Number 3 (SJR 50): SJR 50 would amend the constitution to authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or its successors to issue and sell general obligation bonds on a continuing basis for the purpose of financing educational loans for students, subject to certain constitutional restrictions, including a restriction as to the maximum principal amount of bonds outstanding at any one time.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.”

TCG Position: No -- TCG believes that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or its successors should not have the authority to sell general obligation bonds, ultimately raising our taxes. Now is not the time to increase state borrowing by authorizing additional bonds.

The Texas Constitution, Article 3, sections 50b-4, 50b-5, and 50b-6 authorize the Hinson-Hazlewood College Student Loan Program (HH loan program) for loans to Texas residents who attend public or private higher education institutions in Texas. Under Education Code, sec. 52.01, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or its successors, is authorized to administer the loan program, which was adopted in 1965 and uses general obligation bonds to finance these loans. Over the past 40 plus years, approximately $1.78 Billion have been allocated to this program.

Now is not the time to increase state borrowing by authorizing additional bonds. Even though the program is self-supporting, this would add to overall state debt because the bonds are considered an obligation of the state. If the economy did not improve and there was a high rate of default on the loans, the cost to the state could be considerable.

SJR 50 would re-authorize the issuance of bonds originally authorized as long as 40 years ago and since paid off and retired. The Legislature and the voters should retain their oversight authority to approve the issuance of state bonds periodically to determine the need for this level of state borrowing.

Proposition Number 4 (HJR 63): HJR 63 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area within the county, and to pledge increases in ad valorem tax revenues imposed on property in the area by the county for repayment of such bonds or notes. The amendment does not provide independent authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates."

TCG Position: No -- TCG believes the structure of HJR 63 to be untenable. First, this amendment would give the County ability to easily raise taxes as a bond is nothing more than a formal contract to repay borrowed money with interest at fixed intervals. HJR 63 authorizes “increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county” to pay for the bonds. An ad valorem tax (Latin for according to value) is a tax based on the market value of real estate or personal property. However, HJR 63 does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates. In a capitalist economy the state cannot set the value of property, the market sets its value. Without the ability to increase ad valorem tax rates, this amendment will fail. Alternatively, it will give an incentive to appraise property in the affected county at a higher value, which we have argued cannot be done in a capitalist economy.

Proposition Number 5 (SJR 26): SJR 26 would amend the constitution to authorize the legislature to allow cities and counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities and counties without having to assess an ad valorem tax and set aside a specified amount of funds for the payment of costs under the interlocal contract.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund."

TCG Position: Yes -- TCG believes that allowing multi-year interlocal contracts would give local governments the flexibility to consolidate more projects and services, reducing duplication of efforts, and reducing costs to taxpayers.

Under Texas Constitution, Art. 11, Sections 5 and 7, for a city having a population of greater than 5,000 and all counties and cities bordering the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, no debt may be created by the city or county unless a tax is levied that is sufficient to pay the interest and a sinking fund of at least two percent is created.
SJR 26, in conjunction with the enabling legislation SB 760 (already enacted), would allow cities and counties to enter into contracts for longer than one year without that contract automatically constituting a debt. This would give local governments the flexibility to consolidate more projects and services, reducing duplication of efforts, and reducing costs to taxpayers.

TCG could find no opposition to this from any legislator in the 82nd Legislature. We agree.

Proposition Number 6 (HJR 109): HJR 109 would amend the constitution to increase the amount of principal that is available for withdrawal from the permanent school fund each year and would also clarify certain references to that fund in the constitution. Increased access to the principal of the state public education trust fund would be based upon HJR 109 granting the authority to consider alternative market calculations when determining the amount of principal that is available for distribution to the available school fund. HJR 109 would also provide authority to distribute to the available school fund annual revenue from school fund land or other properties up to $300 million per year.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund."

TCG Position: Yes -- TCG generally dislikes constitutional amendments as most are recommended to find ways to increase revenue to the government. We believe HR 109 to be different. Upon research, we believe it is a bi-partisan piece of legislation that is necessary to clarify the constitutionality of the General Land Office’s (GLO) authority to distribute revenue derived from permanent school fund land and property directly to the available school fund for distribution in the next biennium to the state’s public schools. HJR 109 appears to generally be a necessary housekeeping type bill that also puts constraints on the GLO to distribute to the Available School Fund (ASF) each year no more than 50 percent of the net revenue derived during that year from the land or properties. It appears to be a necessary bill that cuts unnecessary spending and does not raise taxes.

Proposition Number 7 (SJR 28): SJR 28 would amend the constitution by adding El Paso County to the list of counties authorized to create conservation and reclamation districts to develop parks and recreational facilities financed by taxes.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities."

TCG Position: No -- TCG believes SJR 28 is wrong at this time for two reasons. First, SJR 28 was passed by suspending Senate Rule 7.18 and the Constitutional Rule requiring bills to be read on three separate days prior to final passage. This “fast tracking” of the bill minimized public scrutiny. TCG believes that no circumstance existed in this case to justify the extraordinary act of suspending a requirement of the Texas Constitution. The suspension of this Constitutional Rule has the direct and immediate effect of denying the people of Texas knowledge and notice of the passage of this measure until it has already been finally passed on third reading. We therefore cannot support this for this reason alone.

Second, SJR 28 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities. Again, ad valorem taxes (Latin for according to value) are a taxes based on the market value of real estate or personal property. El Paso is a property poor county. It is doubtful that ad valorem taxes will be able to sufficiently fund the bonds needed to fund this amendment. We believe that in this current economic climate, government leaders should focus on sustaining the local economy and generating revenue rather than on creating additional debt.

Proposition Number 8 (SJR 16): SJR 16 would amend the constitution by requiring the legislature to provide for taxation of open space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity."

TCG Position: No -- TCG has discovered that the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club was a lobbyist for this bill. This alone may not disqualify SJR 16, but it is cause for deeper research. Under the Texas Constitution, Art. 8, sec. 1-d-1, the Legislature by general law must provide for taxation of open-space land devoted to farm, ranch, or wildlife management purposes on the basis of its productive capacity and may provide for taxation of open-space land devoted to timber production on the basis of its productive capacity. SJR 16 would amend the Texas Constitution, Art. 8, sec. 1-d-1 to require the Legislature to provide for taxation of open-space land devoted to water stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

TCG believes that SJR 16 requires the state of Texas to create another revenue stream, taxation of open-space land devoted to water stewardship. SJR 16 is unnecessary because it would duplicate options that are already in place under the wildlife management valuation. This proposed constitutional amendment and its enabling legislation is not needed because farmers and ranchers who qualify for an agricultural valuation are practicing water conservation in order to keep their stocks and crops productive. A separate water stewardship designation is not needed when landowners already practice water conservation.

Proposition Number 9 (SJR 9): SJR 9 would amend the constitution to authorize the governor, on the written recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to grant a pardon, reprieve, or commutation of punishment to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision."

TCG Position: No -- TCG believes this bill to be unnecessary. Currently the Texas Constitution, Article 4, sec. 11(b) and Code of Criminal Procedure, article 48.01 authorize the governor to grant reprieves, commutations of punishments, and pardons after a criminal conviction. The governor can grant pardons to people who have been convicted, but the governor does not have the same authority for those who completed deferred adjudication because such cases carry no conviction. Deferred adjudication in many instances is accepting extended probation, without conviction, for a criminal act. Many people on deferred adjudication have committed crimes, such as a 3rd degree felony, but plead guilty to the lesser sentence of deferred adjudication. SJR 9 would expand the governor’s authority to pardon so that people who successfully completed a term of deferred adjudication could be eligible for a pardon as well. The governor could exercise this authority only upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons.

The goal of a pardon is the expunction of criminal history. However, since there is no criminal history or record for persons who successfully complete deferred adjudication, the goal of this amendment is therefore the expunction of that person’s arrest record. The Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor must both agree; a process that historically has resulted in few pardons.

SJR 9 is unnecessary because when a person completes deferred adjudication he/she can file what is called a petition for non-disclosure after successful completion of a deferred probation. This essentially seals the criminal record of the offense from private entities. This keeps potential employers, apartment complexes, and many others, from knowing about the offense. We already have a process in place to accomplish this amendment’s goal without amending the constitution.

The state should be cautious about any new restrictions on the public’s access to criminal history record information. The record of someone who has completed deferred adjudication accurately states that the person completed their term and that the charges were dismissed, and this should remain public information.

Proposition Number 10 (SJR 37): SJR 37 would amend the constitution by extending the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain local elected officeholders if they announce candidacy or become candidates for another office from one year to one year and 30 days.

The proposed amendment would appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.

TCG Position: Yes -- TCG believes this amendment will be accepted by all voters, regardless of their political affiliation. The Texas Constitution, Article 16, sec. 65 stipulates that when certain officers announce their candidacy or become a candidate in any general, special, or primary election and their unexpired term of office currently held is more than one year, the announcement of such candidacy constitutes an automatic resignation of the office held.

Also, the Federal MOVE Act requires that states make ballots available to overseas soldiers at least 45 days prior to an election. Due to Texas' primary in the first week of March, the 45 day MOVE requirement is pushing the 2012 filing deadline up to December 2011. Current law requires County officeholders seeking to move up to a higher office to resign their office one year after filing to run for the next office. SJR 37 would change that resignation period to 13 months, allowing candidates who are current officeholders to run without resigning their current elected office.

TCG could find no opposition to this from any legislator in the 82nd Legislature. We agree; SJR 37 should be adopted.
 
« Previous Blog Entry (April 2, 2011)
 


Your Opinions and Comments
 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
October 22, 2011 7:02am
 
 
Where is the amendment to constrain legislators to a spending and taxing cap? I know, we have a balanced budget provision, but that means nothing if they can pander and spend ... Read More Read More
 
 
Serious Thinker  
La Vernia  
October 22, 2011 6:15am
 
 
Still not in agreement with any of them, even with the detailed information.
 
 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
October 21, 2011 7:43am
 
 
I find it depressing that with all these amendments to raise taxes, there are none that would do anything to cut taxes or limit the ability of taxing authorities to continue ... Read More Read More
 
 
Elaine K.  
Floresville  
October 20, 2011 3:29pm
 
 
New post.
 

Share your comment or opinion on this story!


You must be logged in to post comments:



Other TEA'd Off Americans


TEA'd Off Americans bio side
TEA'd Off Americans Email link
TeA'd Off Americans Property Tax ExemptionLink
TEA'd Off Americans share thread
TEA'd Off Americans side-speeches header
TEA'd Off Americans side-speeches travis
TEA'd Off Americans side-speeches monica
TEA'd Off Americans side-speeches jay
TEA'd Off Americans side-speeches curt
TeA'd Off Americans remarks Pat Dixon
TEA'd Off Americans TCG
TEA'd Off Americans Donald May
 
^Top
  Copyright © 2014 Wilson County News. All rights reserved. Web development by Drewa Designs.
^Top