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Nov. 2nd Proposed Amendments to the Texas Constitution

These are proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution which passed in the Texas Legislature, and each must now pass at the ballot box on November 2, 2021 before becoming part of our state constitution. They are shown in the same order that they will appear on your ballot, and that order was determined by random drawing.

Early voting for this election will run from Monday, October 18th through Friday, October 29th.

Proposition 1 (HJR 143)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Proposition 2 (HJR 99)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

Proposition 3 (SJR 27)

“The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

Proposition 4 (SJR 47)

“The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

Proposition 5 (HJR 165)

“The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Proposition 6 (SJR 19)

“The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Proposition 7 (HJR 125)

“The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Proposition 8 (SJR 35)

“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 member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”



The following analysis was put out by the North Texas Citizens Lobby and authored by Barbara Harless.

8 Proposed Texas Constitution Amendments Nov. 2, 2021

8 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution will be on the Nov. 2, 2021 ballot for all Texas registered voters. Three questions must be answered to evaluate the constitutionality of each proposal…
1) Is it “constitutional”? (Supports the constitutional republic)
2) Is there a need? (Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
3) Affordability? (Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)

To understand why these questions are important, see this explanation: https://ntcl.org/2013/10/13/all-laws-must-pass-the-constitutional-test/
Additionally, do you know how your elected House Representative and your Senator voted on each of these?  This article will tell you on each of the 8 proposals. Please call them. Ask them why they voted the way they did.

Prop# 1
The 2021 ballot will read…
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Here’s an overview of the history of government approved charitable raffles in Texas…
In 1989 raffles were approved by voters. Texas law establishes how charitable raffles must be conducted and who may hold them. Currently the Constitution requires the state legislature to enact laws prohibiting lotteries and gift enterprises – with exceptions, and those exceptions are:
1. State lottery
2. Charitable bingo, and
3. Charitable raffles

In 2015, voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow certain charitable foundations associated with five (5) certain named professional sports teams.. Those were defined as Texas Professional sports teams that belong to these 5 associations:
Major League Baseball
National Basketball Association
National Hockey League
National Football League, and
Major League Soccer

In 2017 voters approved a constitution amendment to expand those professional sports team charitable foundations to include teams that belong to 12 additional organizations:
1. The American Hockey League,
2. East Coast Hockey League,
3. American Association of Independent Professional Baseball,
4. Atlantic League of Professional Baseball,
5. Minor League Baseball,
6. the National Basketball Association Development League,
7. National Women’s Soccer League,
8. Major Arena Soccer League,
9. United Soccer League,
10. Women’s National Basketball Association
11. NASCAR, INDYCar, or another nationally recognized motorsports racing association at a venue in this state with a permanent seating capacity of not less than 75,000; or
12. an organization hosting a PGA event.

Fast forward to this year, the 2021 proposed constitution amendment requires the Rodeo to be conducted at a facility owned or operated by – and operated at the home venue of – an organization sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association at which rodeos are conducted by that organization to participate in the state-sanctioned charitable raffles.

This article will give you the list of Nay votes on each proposition. Since a proposed constitution amendment must receive 2/3 favorable votes in each chamber, you can properly presume that if your legislators’ names are not listed, then they voted “FOR” the proposal. Voters should take notes and call your legislators and ask them why they voted the way they did. We the People are tasked with the decision – Are they worthy of my vote in the primary next year?

Prop #1 passed in the House despite these 17 Nay votes – all of these were Republicans

NAY votes – HOUSE
CainPattersonSwanson
CasonSanfordTinderholt
FrankSchaeferToth
HefnerShaheenVasut
MurrSlatonWilson
NobleSlawson 
Biedermann, Landgraf, Leach, Middleton intended to vote Nay

And 2 Nay votes in the senate, both Republicans…

NAY votes – SENATE
BirdwellHall

Now, let’s apply 3 questions…

1.) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
NO
Governments are not instituted to pick winners/losers, especially in matters of charity.

2.) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
NO
The government is not required to inspire charitable donations, and the constitution is certainly not the place to address personal charity.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
NO
All government actions and their agencies require funding by the People. Prop #1 increases the scope and cost of government to administer, monitor, and penalize the actions of such foundations and charitable raffles.


Prop# 2
The ballot will read…
“The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

The change in text to the Texas constitution will be in Article 8 – TAXATION AND REVENUE, – under: DEVELOPMENT OR REDEVELOPMENT OF PROPERTY; AD VALOREM TAX RELIEF AND ISSUANCE OF BONDS AND NOTES, by adding counties to entities allowed to issue debt for transportation and infrastructure.

With this amendment, the counties may not:
1) Pledge >65% of increase in tax revenues toward repayment of debt (bonds/notes).
2) Use proceeds from the bonds or notes to finance the construction, operation, maintenance, or acquisition of rights-of-way of a toll road.

I defer to Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom on all things related to transportation. Terri is strongly opposed to Prop# 2. Here’s what she has to say…

Proposition 2 contains misleading ballot wording to hide the fact that this proposition uses local property tax increases to pay for transportation projects that should be funded by the state using your existing taxes. Lawmakers already tried getting this past the voters in 2011 (then known as Prop 4), but voters rejected it. Now they think they can get it slipped past you this November by deceptively changing the ballot language to the remove the phrase ‘ad valorem tax increases’ and throw in the word ‘transportation’ . Ballot initiatives for transportation tend to pass with over 90% of the vote – nearly 100% of citizens need and use roads on a daily basis, it’s one of the few core functions of government. In fact, Prop 2 would authorize counties to divert up to 65% of your property tax to projects the state should be funding with your existing road taxes. Even more frightening is the broad language used for the land to do it. It changes the constitution to give counties authority to issue bonds to finance ‘undeveloped, underdeveloped, or blighted areas.’ That could mean virtually anything! One man’s blight is another man’s treasure.

Terri’s PAC (Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom), along with Grassroots America – We the People PAC, and the True Texas Project have informed the Texas Secretary of State that if Prop# 2 passes in November, they will file suit regarding the misleading ballot language. The letter can be read at TexasTurf.org https://www.texasturf.org/images/pdf/Ltr-SoS-Prop2-TURF-TTP-GAWTP-2021.pdf

Prop# 2 has 112 authors in the HOUSE: 47 Republicans, 65 Democrats.
Oddly, some of the House authors flipped and voted against Prop 2. In the House the nay votes are shown here – most of these are Republicans.

HOUSE Nay Votes
BeckleyNoble
BiedermannPatterson
CainPaul
CasonShaheen
CookSlaton
EllzeySlawson
HefnerVasut
Middleton 
Intended to vote no: Anderson, Holland, Leach, Leeman, Murr, Oliverson, Schaefer, Schofield, Swanson, Tinderholt, Toth

The senate Nay votes are listed here:

SENATE Nay Votes
BuckinghamHughes
HallSpringer

1) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
NO
Any actions by government (or individuals) that do NOT respect and support individual rights to life, liberty, and property, are un-constitutional.

Under-developed, un-developed, or blighted property can be defined, and redefined, by the legislature at any time. What one man sees as his treasure may be government’s definition of blight or under-developed. Through eminent domain powers, government can take property and develop it for the “greater good”, while committing the greater good to more debt. The sheeple were tossed one positive crumb. Counties CANNOT use the debt to finance the construction, operation, maintenance, or acquisition of rights-of-way for a toll road, thanks to Sen. Bob Hall’s floor amendment.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?
YES and NO
YES, transportation improvements generally benefit all the people whether for private transportation or common carrier.
NO, all the people may not have a need. In many cases, transportation improvements can be seen as a “desire” and not a “need”. Often times the increase in traffic with noise and light pollution deteriorates the value and aesthetics of adjacent private property; something those property owners don’t need.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
Neutral. The cost and uniformity will be different in each situation. The bill author said that transportation improvements will bring more local tax dollars, or “revenue”, to the area. Note that while nothing is free, the bill author stated that there will be no increase in ad valorem tax rate for financing of this debt, only an increase in ad valorem revenue will be used, and no more than 65% of an increase in the revenue each year may pay off this debt created by a county. Well, expenses are paid out of the same pot, so it’s possible that up to 65% of other government services will be trimmed to pay for this new transportation debt, especially in lean economic times, or government mandated shut downs.

Tax Increment Financed projects are required to hold one hearing for public input, but the public does not vote on these projects. Just because the ballot doesn’t say “debt paid for with property taxes” that is how the projects will be funded.


Prop# 3
The ballot will read:
“The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

We question whether this proposed amendment is necessary or good.
Article I, of the Texas Constitution, Section 6 currently reads:

FREEDOM OF WORSHIP. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.

Prop# 3 will add this text … Sec. 6-a. This state or a political subdivision of this state may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services, including religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and places of worship, in this state by a religious organization established to support and serve the propagation of a sincerely held religious belief.

Although HB 1239 (Sanford, Noble, et al / Paxton, Bettencourt, Hall, Lucio) is not listed as the enabling legislation for Prop# 3, HB 1239 does appear to give statutory effect to Prop# 3 – and – HB 1239 went into effect in June, without requiring an amendment to the constitution being required…
Chapter 110, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, has been amended by adding Section 110.0031 to read as follows: Sec. 110.0031. PROHIBITION ON ORDERS CLOSING PLACES OF WORSHIP. A government agency or public official may not issue an order that closes or has the effect of closing places of worship in this state or in a geographic area of this state.
Section 110.002, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is amended by adding Subsection (d) to read as follows:
(d) For purposes of a state of disaster declared under Chapter 418, Government Code:
1) this chapter is not considered a regulatory statute; and
(2) a provision of this chapter may not be suspended.

Chapter 418 of the Government Code is the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, which Governor Abbott used to impose his Executive Orders, beginning on March 19, 2020.

Again, HB 1239 went into effect immediately (6/16/2021), not requiring an amendment to the constitution. Prop#3, if passed, will amend the Texas Constitution. The only way to change the constitution would be for another amendment, which is a higher threshold to achieve than merely changing Texas statute by a majority vote of a future legislature.

Prop# 3 passed in the House, despite these 33 Democrats voting against…

HOUSE Nay votes
AllenGonza ́lez, M.Reynolds
AnchiaGoodwinRodriguez
BeckleyHinojosaRose
BowersIsraelRosenthal
BucyJohnson, A.Sherman
ColeJohnson, J.E.Talarico
CollierLopezTurner, C.
CrockettMezaTurner, J.
DavisMorales, C.Vo
DeshotelOrtegaWu
Gonza ́lez, J.RamosZwiener
Intended/or would have voted NO: Morales Shaw, Perez

There were 2 nay votes in the senate. – both Democrats…

SENATE Nay votes
EckhardtJohnson

1) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
YES
At the state level, the Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 6 is part of the original 1876 Texas Constitution. The words in Section 6 have never been amended. Article 6 still addresses FREEDOM OF WORSHIP

As for Congress or other federal/national body enacting, adopting, or issuing a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services, The Constitution for the united States establishes limits on what Congress can do (not the States).

Amendment #1, adopted in 1791 still reads… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Article 1, section 1, of the federal constitution clearly states in the first 11 words…
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States”
“All” means all. The president has no legislative power. Federal courts have no legislative power. Federal courts render opinions and only in certain matters. The States on the other hand decide their own matters within their borders.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
Yes and NO…
YES
We the People have never authorized government to interfere in religious practices, and never specifically during a declared disaster as was the case in Texas under Governor Abbott’s numerous “executive orders” beginning on March 19, 2020, limiting gatherings of Texans. Gov. Abbott unjustly declared his power over religious worship through the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 proclaiming… In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.

NO
Article 1, section 6 of the constitution already prohibits government interference in religious worship. We the People need to learn our inherent rights and defend them locally. Stop asking government to solve the problems we ignorantly and irresponsibly allow them to create and enforce.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
YES
There is no monetary cost involved when government does not prohibit religious freedom


Prop# 4
The ballot will read…
“The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

Prop# 4 will amend the Texas Constitution to change the eligibility requirements to serve as judge on 4 different types of Texas courts.

For Supreme Court Justices, Court of Criminal Appeals, and Texas Court of Appeals, Prop 4 will create these new qualifications to serve. A candidate must …
– be a practicing lawyer licensed in the State of Texas for at least ten years; or
– be a practicing lawyer licensed in the State of Texas and judge of a state court or county court for a combined total of at least ten years; and
– not had the person’s license to practice law revoked, suspended, or subject to a probated suspension during those 10 years.

New qualifications for District Judges, a candidate …
– Must have been a practicing lawyer or a Judge of a Court in this State, or both combined, for eight years [instead of current four years]; and
– during which time the judge’s license to practice law has not been revoked, suspended, or subject to a probated suspension.

All these changes are for justices elected or appointed for a term that begins on or after January 1, 2025. Prop# 4 passed with 19 nay votes in the house (5 Republicans).
The Republicans are noted in RED …

NAY Votes-House
AllisonDavisNeave
AnchiaGervin-HawkinsReynolds
BeckleyGonzalez, J.Romero
CainGuerraSlaton
CollierJohnson, J.D.Thompson, S.
CookMun ̃ozVasut
Crockett  
Intended/or would have voted NO: Sherman, Toth
Intended to vote YES: Cain

and 1 nay vote in the senate…

NAY Votes-SENATE
Gutierrez

1) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
YES
The Texas Constitution defines state government, with terms, elections, appointments etc. This includes our courts.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
NEUTRAL

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
YES


Prop 5
The ballot will read:
“The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Currently, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct may only handle complaints against existing judges. This amendment would extend the Commission’s authority to impose the same standards on all judicial candidates as it does for those who are already judges, therefore leveling the playing field and ensuring all candidates for judicial positions are treated equally.

This is the actual text that will be added to Article V of the constitution…
(13-a) The Commission may accept complaints or reports, conduct investigations, and take any other action authorized by this section with respect to a candidate for an office named in Subsection (6)(A) of this section in the same manner the Commission is authorized to take those actions with respect to a person holding that office.

Prop# 5 passed unanimously in both chambers.

1) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
YES

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
YES
Access to a body that reviews judicial conduct for both incumbents and challengers provides one more scorecard for voters to access.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
YES
Prop 5 will increase the responsibilities of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct by expanding the list of individuals potentially subject to a complaint or investigation by the commission but the cost is justified if it helps to inform voters of their choices at the ballot box.


Prop# 6
The ballot will read:
“The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Prop# 6 will amend the Bill of Rights in the Texas Constitution by adding all these words…
ARTICLE I.
Sec. 35. (a) A resident of a nursing facility, assisted living facility, intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual disability, residence providing home and community-based services, or state supported living center, as those terms are defined by general law, has the right to designate an essential caregiver with whom the facility, residence, or center may not prohibit in-person visitation.
(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a) of this section, the legislature by general law may provide guidelines for a facility, residence, or center described by Subsection (a) of this section to follow in establishing essential caregiver visitation policies and procedures.

How many essential caregivers are mentioned here? One – “an” essential caregiver.

How will the legislature provide the guidelines? SB 25 gives us a peek at how the legislature currently plans to provide guidelines. SB 25 is the legislation providing specific rules for “essential caregivers” and already became effective 9/1/2021, without a requirement that Prop#6 first pass on Nov 2nd .

SB 25 grants Texas Health & Human Services Commission (the state’s largest agency, created in 1991) the power to provide and oversee the provisions and limitations for essential caregivers during a declared public health emergency. “Essential caregiver” is defined as a family member, friend, guardian, or other individual selected by a resident, resident’s guardian, or resident’s legally authorized representative for in-person visits.

SB 25 allows temporary limits during a declared public health emergency…
1) Visitation schedule shall allow at least 2 hours each day
2) A facility, through a petition to HHS, may suspend in person visitation for up to 7 days at a time
3) Each 7 day suspension is to be considered by HHS separately.
4) Suspension of visitation may not exceed 14 consecutive days or a total of 45 days.

Keep in mind that the Legislature can amend these rules anytime they want, to be more restrictive or less restrictive. But according to the text in the Prop#6 constitution amendment, they may (not “shall”) provide guidelines.

Prop 6 Passed with 1 Nay vote in the House:

NAY votes – House
Hinojosa

And 1 Nay vote in Senate:

Nay votes – Senate
Johnson

1.) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
Yes and No…
YES
Prop# 6 is one step closer to personal freedom by putting a restriction in the Constitution to limit the governor from using his pen to single-handedly restrict our interactions with loved ones through executive order…
NO
The ballot wording for Prop# 6, like most ballot wording, hides the fact that the legislature can restrict caregiver contact. The actual amendment to the Texas constitution will read…
“ the legislature by general law may provide guidelines for a facility, residence, or center …in establishing essential caregiver visitation policies and procedures.”

For several decades the legislature, regardless of which Party has been in control, has refused to support individual choice and responsibility when it comes to personal self-defense (right to keep and bear arms). We know from the China virus, that governments threaten individual health when the People ignorantly comply with absurd mandates. The legislature is only in session 140 days in odd numbered years. Meanwhile, they give immense power to appointed bureaucrats (HHS) to make rules and penalties. The proposed amendment should read “The governor and his executive departments are prohibited from directing human interaction in this state.”

The amendment states “an” essential caregiver – that’s one (1). Why not 2, 5, or 10 essential caregivers? If I’m in a nursing facility and I choose my son as my “essential caregiver”, and not my daughter, how will that affect their relationship? Will this adversely affect my relationship with my daughter? Everyone in my family is essential to me. They each give me physical and emotional support, and could give me monetary support when I’m older. How will I choose just one? Should I choose the one with the most money? Or the one that’s most likely to visit me more often hoping I’ll bequeath a bigger portion of my estate? Bureaucrats can restrict or expand the definition of “essential”, thus jeopardizing some Texans.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
NO
It is alarming that the People allow our governments to interfere with our interactions with loved ones. When was the last time you visited your grandmother when you were sick with the flu? Do you need government to tell you when you can visit her? This proposed amendment to our Texas constitution is a veiled nefarious government attempt to solve a government-created problem.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
NEUTRAL
The cost to administer and police is addressed this way by the Texas Legislative Budget Board: “It is assumed that any costs associated with the bill could be absorbed using existing resources”


PROP #7
The ballot will read…
“The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

In 2019, the 86th Legislature passed HB 1313, which expanded property tax exemptions on public school taxes to include the surviving spouse of an individual who was disabled as long as the surviving spouse is at least 55 years old. The bill was in conflict with the Texas Constitution, therefore if Prop# 7 passes this November, a tax collector will have to calculate the taxes that should have been imposed for the 2020 and 2021 tax years according to that bill, and if the taxes collected exceeded those that should have been imposed, the collector would have to refund the difference to the qualifying surviving spouse.

Prop# 7 and Prop# 8 address exemptions to ad valorem taxes, aka property taxes. Therefore let’s review recent history of ad valorem tax exemptions adopted via amendments to the Texas constitution…
2007: exempt all or part of the residence homesteads of certain totally disabled veterans
2011: property tax exemptions for surviving spouse of a “100 percent or totally disabled veteran”
2013: exemption for surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who is killed in action (KIA).
2015: Removed the date-of-death restriction regarding disabled veterans so that all surviving spouses now inherit the exemption (3800 homesteads qualified for this new exemption that year). For those taxing districts with higher populations of disabled veterans, the state subsidizes these cities with taxes from other districts. And this 2015 homestead exemption is available to all surviving spouses that move to Texas from other states.
2017: exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.” Fatally injured means the responder could die later, as a result of actions taken while performing official on-the-job duties.

The surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is entitled to an exemption from taxation of the total appraised value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead” as long as the spouse does not remarry. This exemption value can be transferred to another homestead should the spouse move, and this exemption was retroactive to include all spouses of deceased first responders.

The definition of “first responder”; there are 17 categories of government personnel that qualify for this tax exemption:
1. a peace officer
2. paid probation officer
3. parole officer
4. paid jailer
5. organized police reserve or auxiliary unit
6. employees of the correctional institutions division
7. jailer or guard of a county jail
8. juvenile correctional employee
9. employee of the Department of Aging and Disability Services or Department of State Health Services who works at the department’s maximum security unit
10. individual certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection
11. individual whose principal duties are aircraft crash and rescue fire fighting
12. member of an organized volunteer fire-fighting unit
13. performs emergency medical services or operates an ambulance
14. a chaplain for a) Volunteer fire-fighting unit, b) Law enforcement agency, c) Texas Department of Criminal Justice
15. A trainee employed by the state or a political subdivision for any of these positions
16. employed by the Department of Public Safety and deployed into the field to support law enforcement operations
17. employed by the Parks and Wildlife and assists in law enforcement

If the surviving spouse remarries, they lose the tax exemption. Surviving spouses moving to Texas from another state qualify.

Fast-forward to this year, 2021. Texas voters will vote on whether to extend property tax exemptions on public school taxes to a surviving spouse of a qualifying disabled property owner as long as the survivor is 55 years of age or older.

Prop 7 passed unanimously in both chambers.

1) Is it constitutional?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
NO
When you reduce the amount of payers into the tax system, you increase the amount of debt to those fewer payers. Prop# 7 continues to reduce the pool of property owners who must carry the load for all property owners. Property taxes are Marxist with the intent to abolish property ownership. To be constitutional, this amendment would abolish all ad valorem property taxes.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
NO
All property owners are not disabled or married to someone disabled. Additionally, those who rent their home don’t qualify for property tax exemptions.

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it?
Is the cost equal and uniform?)
NO
Prop 7 creates another special class of property owners, and penalizes others with more debt. Government forced charity is not charity. What if you kept all your local, county, state and federal taxes that go to entitlement programs for those that are challenged to help themselves? Do you have a family member or a neighbor that you would be able to assist with that money, without government taking their chunk out first? How did our economically challenged neighbors receive assistance prior to FDR’s 1933 NEW DEAL, a federal program that forced federal taxes to provide support for the unemployed, youth and the elderly, among numerous other programs? Answer; through our churches, family, and neighbors.

As retired congressman Ron Paul said. “Don’t steal. The government doesn’t like competition.”

Just like freedom is a fundamental desire of every human being, so is the desire to help fellow humans. Individuals express charity in many other forms. There are hundreds of organized charities that do great work for those who show a need for assistance, the best being through religious charities. Government charities take a large chunk of the donation before it benefits those to whom they are intended to benefit.


Prop# 8
The ballot will read:
“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 member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

A little background…In 2013 Texas voters passed an amendment that provided for full property tax exemption to surviving spouses of US military members “killed in action”,- as in during combat. This year, Prop #8 extends this full property tax exemption to those surviving spouses of servicemen killed in” the line of duty” as well, not just those killed in combat. The exemption only applies as long as the spouse does not remarry, and includes veterans’ widows that move to Texas from other states.

There was one nay vote in the senate…

NAY votes – SENATE
Johnson

Prop 8 passed unanimously in the House.

1) Is it “constitutional”?
(Supports the constitutional republic)
NO – like prop# 7, Prop# 8 creates a special class of property owners. If Texans and our state government had any say so about our soldiers going overseas this might be a different situation but we don’t. Congress hasn’t declared war since WWII. One man UN-constitutionally does this – the President of the United States, while Congress twiddles their thumbs.
Government forced charity is not charity. See Prop# 7.

2) Is there a need?
(Do all the People have a need for and benefit from the proposed government intervention?)
NO

3) Affordability?
(Can the People afford it? Is the cost equal and uniform?)
NO
 – the exemption is neither uniform nor affordable.


Source: https://ntcl.org/2021/09/24/8-proposed-texas-constitution-amendments-nov-2-2021/

Uncategorized

HB 4537 Bill Analysis

HB 4537 by Rep. Middleton is the identical companion bill of Sen. Bettencourt’s SB 1968

Analysis by Texas Public Policy Foundation staff:

H.B. 4537 amends the Education Code to add Subchapter J which creates the Family Educational Relief Program for the purpose of giving children from low-income households more choice in education. The program would fund education-related expenses of participants.

A child is eligible to participate in the program if the child is eligible to attend public school and qualifies for the national free or reduced lunch program or is a sibling of a child who qualifies and is eligible to attend public school. A child is no longer eligible for the program if he or she graduates high school, is no longer eligible to attend public school, enrolls in a public school, or is declared ineligible by the comptroller.

Certain organizations will be designated as certified educational assistance organizations; to be eligible for certification, organizations must be able to perform the functions and administration required by the program and have 501(c)(3) status. A parent of an eligible child can apply to enroll the child in a certified educational assistance organization and must include eligibility verification information. Organizations may not keep information obtained to qualify the child beyond the period necessary to determine eligibility. The certified educational assistance organization must include on their website the expenses allowed under the program, the expense reporting requirements, and the descriptions of the responsibilities of both the participants and the organization. Priority for admission will be given to students who participates in the program the previous year, siblings of participants from the previous year, and children with the greatest financial need.

The comptroller will provide to certified educational assistance organizations and include on the website a list of preapproved providers and vendors. If the vendor is a private school, in order to be approved, the private school must be accredited by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission, administer annual assessment under Sec. 39.023, provide evidence of certain policies, and allow participants in the program to apply for any other scholarship offered by the school. If the vendor is a private tutor, therapist or teaching service, in order to be approved the vendor must be certified, hold relevant licenses, be employed (as a teacher or tutor) in an institution of higher education, and complete a national criminal history record review. If the vendor is an online educational course or program, the vendor must be accredited by an organization recognized by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. All other types of vendors must present documentation and qualifications. An education service provider may not be required to change practices, policies, curriculum, or assessments to receive money under the program.

Parents of the participants must agree to only spend the money from the program on allowed expenses and notify the certified education assistance organization within 30 days of the child losing eligibility. Funds from the program may not be paid to any anyone related within the third degree or household member of the participant. An education service provider cannot charge a child participating in the program an amount greater than the standard amount and refunds or credit to the participant are not allowed. The following fees are approved education related expenses:

  • Private school, institution of higher education, or online course tuition;
  • Textbooks, uniforms or other required materials by the school;
  • Tutoring or teaching services; and
  • Educational therapy not covered by any federal, state, or local government (such as Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program) or private insurance.

90% of state’s average maintenance and operations expenditures per student in daily attendance will be placed in an account per participant. Any remaining money at the end of the fiscal year will be carried forward unless the account is closed. In the event the child no longer qualifies, the account will be closed, and funds returned to the Family Education Relief Program Fund. The fund may not be financed by federal money or money from the school fund, but the comptroller can solicit and accept gifts, grants, and donations from public and private sources. The comptroller will make quarterly equal payments to the account.

The comptroller will also make quarterly payments to each certified educational assistance organization to cover the organization’s administration cost though the total amount to all certified education assistance organizations cannot exceed 5% of the funds appropriated. Prior to the payment, each certified education assistance organization must compare participant and public school enrollment lists and notify the comptroller of any overlap. The comptroller may contract a private entity to conduct random auditing to verify compliance with the program.

An account will be suspended if the participant fails to comply with the rules of the program as adopted by the comptroller. Upon receiving notification of suspension of the account, a participant has 10 days to respond and take corrective action. On the 10th day, the comptroller will either close the account and remove the participant from the program, temporarily reinstate the account on a specified condition, or reinstate the account in full. The comptroller may recover money used for not authorized expenses from the participant or entity. If there is evidence of fraudulent uses of the account, the comptroller or organization may refer the case to the attorney general.

Every certified educational assistance organization must post on their website and send to each parent of a child with a disability who applies a notice stating private schools are not subject to the same laws regarding special education and a child with disability may not receive the same services at a private school along with a list of rights under federal and state law children with disabilities have at public schools.

H.B. 4537 amends the Government Code to add subsection (c) to allow the comptroller to obtain criminal history records for private tutors, therapists, and employees of teaching services who intend to provide services to a child in the program.

H.B. 4537 amends the Insurance Code to add Chapter 230 to create a tax credit for contributions to the Family Educational Relief Program that entities can apply for. The amount of credit an entity receives is equal to the lesser of the amount contributed during the period covered by the tax report or 50% of the entity’s state premium tax liability for the report. For the 2022 fiscal year, the total amount of credit cannot exceed $200 million and following years, the credit available will stay the same unless 90% of the available credit was awarded the previous year, then the credit available will increase to 125% of the previous year’s credit. The comptroller can require an entity to estimate the amount of credit it intends to apply for at any point in the year.

Prior to making a contribution to the fund, an entity can apply for preliminary approval of credit by filling out a form for the comptroller. The comptroller will grant preliminary approval on a first-come, first-served basis for as long as there is credit available without exceeding the year’s credit limit. For a standard credit application, the entity must apply within the tax period the contribution was made through a form created by the comptroller. The comptroller has discretion in choosing who receives credit and reasoning for denial cannot be requested though an entity can request a reconsideration within 30 days which is final. Credit awarded cannot be transferred to another entity unless all assets of the entity are transferred to the other.

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School Choice Gets the House’s Back Door Treatment

Thursday, April 22, 2021 – Budget Day in the Texas House of Representatives

Near 5:00 PM, Rep. Herrero introduced Amendment 84 with Rep. Huberty standing close behind him. He thanked “Dr. VanDeaver and all those that support public education…..Stand with our public school teachers.”

The amendment reads, “Prohibition on Use of Appropriated Money for School Choice Programs. Money appropriated by this Act may not be used to pay for or support a school voucher, education savings account, or tax credit scholarship program or similar program through which a child may use state money for nonpublic primary or secondary education.

Rep. Steve Toth, whose district is in Montgomery County near Houston, spoke against the amendment, saying,

“Members, not all of us have choice. I have choice. If I lived in a district that didn’t adequately and effectively provide a good education to my child, I have choice, I can move to a different district. Parents desire choice. Parents desire to make that decision as to whether or not the educational experience their child is receiving is effective or not. Every parent deserves that choice.

This is a poll that was done by the Mason-Dixon Polling Strategy Company. It’s a nonpartisan organization.  They do polling for Republicans, Democrats, on all sorts of different issues. I’m kind of a polling nerd. I used to work for the Harris poll.

They went out to 625 registered Texas voters, margin of error of plus or minus 4%, with a 95% probability rate. And here’s what it says,

If you live in East Texas, 79% of Texans desire parental choice.

If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 76% of parents desire School Choice.

Houston Metro, parental choice, 79%,

Central Texas, 76%

West Texas, 71%

And if you’re in a 50/50 district, here’s the most key thing of all, if you’re in a 50/50 district, independent voters, overwhelmingly, 74% believe in parental choice.

Let’s give underserved children the same choice that every single member of this Texas House and Senate has. And I ask for you to reject this amendment.”

Then Rep. Huberty, of the Public Education Committee, spoke for the amendment:

“Members, we’ve had this discussion in this body for years about this. The reality of the situation is we have plenty of options of choice within our public schools. That’s just false narrative. We’ve had the ability to send, when we talk about special needs kids as an example, we have the ability to put them in private placement, we have the ability to let them do that. We’ve expanded the options for parents through the pandemic, of creating opportunities. We’re talking about virtual schools now. We talking about all these wonderful options that we have there. So I respectfully ask you to vote for the amendment.”

Rep. Herrero said in closing: “Join all the members that are here in support of this amendment (indicating the members standing behind him) and stand with our public school teachers and support this amendment. I move for the adoption.”

Rep. Biedermann raised a point of order against further consideration of Amendment 84 under Rule 8, Section 4, of the House Rules on the grounds that the amendment changes general law through an appropriations bill. The point of order was withdrawn.

A record vote requested by Rep. Toth.

Final vote tally:  115 Yeas to 29 Nays, 2 present but not voting.

The 29 Republican representatives who voted in favor of School Choice by voting against this amendment to defund any form of it were:

Biedermann, Bonnen, Cain, Capriglione, Cason, Craddick, Frank, Gates, Hefner, Hull, Jetton, Klick, Krause, Leach, Metcalf, Middleton, Murphy, Noble, Oliverson, Parker, Patterson, Paul, Sanford, Schafer, Shaheen, Swanson, Tinderholt, Toth, Wilson.

Statements of vote:

Button was out of the chamber, but would have voted “no.”

Leach said he was shown voting no, but intended to vote Yes.

Leman was shown voting Yes, but intended to vote No.

Metcalf was shown voting no, but intended to vote Yes.

Shaheen was shown voting No, but intended to vote Yes.

(So apparently statements of vote changes afterwards are documented in the journal, but the tally does not change. Their votes stay as recorded. I crossed through the names who indicated they meant to vote for the defund amendment.) All the representatives not named above voted for the defund amendment.

This was a back door move to eliminate any chance of any kind of School Choice getting through, because while activists attentively watch the progress of bills, which all had to be filed by March 12, no one outside the back offices of the Capitol could have seen this amendment coming, and it was only filed the day of the Budget vote. And the great majority of Republican Representatives and all the Democrats voted in favor.

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Let Our Children Go!

There is ONE approved bill for achieving the School Choice for All Legislative Priority, and it desperately needs action right now.

Senator Bettencourt’s SB 1968 and its identical companion bill, Representative Middleton’s HB 4537, establishing the Family Educational Relief Program, are stalled.

SB 1968 was assigned to the Senate Education Committee, HB 4537 was assigned to the House Public Education Committee, and neither has been seen or heard since.

These bills MUST be given hearings by the first week in May, or they are high and dry.

Republican voters have been requesting School Choice for decades now, for the benefit of all Texan children. Polls demonstrate that in every region of Texas, over 70% of the population wants choice in schools. School Choice has been placed on the ballots of multiple Republican Primary Elections as Propositions, and each time has passed statewide by wide margins.

More than this, School Choice is one of the ten enduring Principles of the Republican Party of Texas, ahead of all the planks in the Platform. To that end, it has once again been voted by the thousands of state convention delegates as one of their priorities for the Texas legislators.

But unless legislators are swiftly shown that constituents’ will is forcefully behind this cause, this issue and these bills will be allowed to quietly lapse for the 13th legislative session in a row. Other issues have become more prominent this year and garnered much of peoples’ attention. Perennially, influential unions and associations, superintendents and school districts who think of families being allowed to choose as a threat to “Our Money” and “Our Students,” lobby powerfully to see that such legislation gets quashed at the outset and never sees the light of day.

But an enduring issue such as School Choice, with effects greater than can be measured, what with the quality of educations and success of children growing up now at stake, should not be disregarded any longer.

If you believe children should not be consigned to the school the district has assigned, then please contact legislators NOW to support SB 1968 and HB 4537.

To learn more about how the Family Educational Relief Program would work, see these articles:

PARKER: Is Texas Legislature Closer to Passing More School Choice Than Ever Before?
https://www.texasinsider.org/articles/parker-is-texas-loser-than-ever-to-more-school-choice

Is Texas About to Change How Parents Choose Their Children’s School?
http://texasinsider.org/articles/is-texas-about-to-change-how-parents-choose-their-children-s-school

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House Bill 281

HB 281:  Ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying

By Rep. Mayes Middleton

Relating to the use by a political subdivision of public money for lobbying activities.

Problem:

Under current law, political subdivisions may spend public funds to hire lobbyists for the purpose of supporting or opposing measures under consideration by the state legislature. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, local governments spent as much as $41 million to lobby the legislature in 2017 alone. Taxpayers and ratepayers of political subdivisions and special districts that hire lobbyists are forced to pay for lobby efforts of their jurisdiction, even if these efforts take positions contrary to their policy preferences. Given that the interests of citizens may differ from those of their local governments, citizens’ legislative lobby efforts toward state elected officials might be adversely affected by the distinct disadvantage they face when contending with the agenda of taxpayer-funded lobbyists hired by political subdivisions.
Furthermore, the state has the sovereign role of creating or chartering political subdivisions as well as dictating their powers, mandates, and prohibitions. The state also provides state funds to political subdivisions for the implementation of state policy at the specific direction of the legislature. Many consider lobbying of the state legislature by political subdivisions to represent a clear and unacceptable conflict of interest between the state and its local entities. Simply put, the government should not be allowed to lobby itself.
Moreover, many lobbyists participate in the political process through campaign contributions, fundraising, electioneering, and other political activities. The receipt of public dollars by these individuals presents the unseemly possibility that public funds could be used to directly or indirectly fund political activity.
Given the significant amount of state funds that most local entities receive and the state’s similar prohibition on lobbying by state agencies, the state has a compelling interest in extending this prohibition to political subdivisions.

Solution:

Ban all political subdivisions, including cities, counties, independent school districts, and special purpose districts, as well as other public entities such as regional mobility authorities and toll authorities from hiring lobbyists or paying dues to an association of similarly-situated entities which lobbies. Important caveats to the prohibition on local government lobbying include the explicit authorization of elected officers of a political subdivision to support or oppose measures under consideration by the legislature. Additionally, employees of a political subdivision may provide information at the request of a committee in the legislature on behalf of the political subdivision.

Result:

Under this change, political subdivisions would not be able to spend public money to influence the legislature. Furthermore, this legislation would prevent political subdivisions from hiring lobbyists for the purpose of influencing the outcome of measures under consideration by the legislature. Local elected officials would remain empowered to personally advocate on behalf of their jurisdiction before the legislature as a natural extension of their representative duty.
This legislation would protect taxpayers from being forced to fund lobby efforts contrary to their policy preferences or interests; taxpayers could also be certain that their tax dollars are not used to fund political activity.

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TX House Ways & Means Committee Members

Please call these committee members’ offices and let them know you want them to support HB2, Property Tax Reform!

Capitol Office numbers:

Chair:  Rep. Dustin Burrows     (512) 463-0542

Vice Chair: Rep. Ryan Guillen  (512)463-0416

Rep. Dwayne Bohac  (512)463-0727

Rep. Sheryl Cole  (512)463-0506

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (512)463-0616

Rep. Jim Murphy  (512)463-0514

Rep. Candy Noble (512)463-0186

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez  (512)463-0674

Rep. Scott Sanford  (512)463-0356

Rep. Matt Shaheen  (512)463-0594

Rep. John Wray  (512)463-0516

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TX House State Affairs Committee Members

Please call these committee members and let them know you want them to support Ending Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying, HB 281!

Capitol office numbers:

Chairman:  Rep. Dade Phelan  (512) 463-0706

Vice Chair: Rep. Ana Hernandez  (512) 463-0614

Rep. Joe Deshotel   (512) 463-0662

Rep. R. D. “Bobby” Guerra   (512) 463-0578

Rep. Sam Harless   (512) 463-0496

Rep. Justin Holland   (512) 463-0484

Rep. Todd Hunter  (512) 463-0672

Rep. Phil King  (512) 463-0738

Rep. Tan Parker  (972) 724-8477

Rep. Richard Peña Raymond  (512) 463-0558

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez  (512) 463-0674

Rep. John T. Smithee   (512) 463-0702

Rep. Drew Springer   (940) 580-1770

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Feb. 27th House Ways & Means Committee Hearing Agenda

I encourage anyone who can to come testify in favor of HB 2, for Property Tax Reform.


House Committee on Ways & Means (C490)
Clerk: Paige Higerd    Phone: (512) 463-0822    Room: EXT E2.116

Hearing:   02/27/2019 8:00 AM

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

COMMITTEE:    Ways & Means

TIME & DATE:  8:00 AM, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PLACE:       JHR 140
CHAIR:       Rep. Dustin Burrows

HB 2           Burrows
Relating to ad valorem taxation.
HB 705         Geren
Relating to the substitution of a county sales and use tax for all or a portion of property taxes imposed by the county; authorizing the imposition of a tax.
The order in which bills are heard is at the discretion of the chair.

Testimony will be limited to two (2) minutes.

Chair: Rep. Dustin Burrows
Vice Chair: Rep. Ryan Guillen
Members: Rep. Dwayne Bohac
Rep. Sheryl Cole
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer
Rep. Jim Murphy
Rep. Candy Noble
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
Rep. Scott Sanford
Rep. Matt Shaheen
Rep. John Wray
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Feb. 27th State Affairs Committee Hearing Agenda

I encourage anyone who can to come testify in favor of HB 281, to End Taxpayer Funded Lobbying.


House Committee on State Affairs (C450)
Clerk: Kory Curtis    Phone: (512) 463-0814    Room: EXT E2.108

02/27/2019

10:30 AM or upon final adjourn./recess or bill referral if permission granted

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

COMMITTEE:    State Affairs

TIME & DATE:  10:30 AM or upon final adjourn./recess or bill referral if permission granted
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PLACE:       E2.014
CHAIR:       Rep. Dade Phelan

HB 41          Metcalf | et al.
Relating to paid leave for a state employee who is a search and rescue volunteer.
HB 81          Canales | et al.
Relating to the disclosure under the public information law of certain information related to parades, concerts, or other entertainment events open to the general public that are paid for with public funds.
HB 125         Martinez
Relating to the online publication of home addresses of certain occupational license holders.
HB 147         Moody | et al.
Relating to access to certain law enforcement, corrections, and prosecutorial records under the public information law.
HB 234         Krause | et al.
Relating to the local regulation of the sale of lemonade or other beverages by children.
HB 281         Middleton
Relating to the use by a political subdivision of public money for lobbying activities.
HB 305         Paul
Relating to the requirement that a state agency or political subdivision with authority to impose a tax post certain information on an Internet website.
HB 382         Ortega | et al.
Relating to the authority to establish a customer assistance program for certain municipally owned utilities.
HB 433         Shaheen
Relating to the disclosure of public money spent by certain political subdivisions for lobbying activities in a comprehensive annual financial report.
HB 444         Meyer
Relating to the criminal penalties for insider trading and other misuse of official information by public servants.
HB 793         King, Phil | et al.
Relating to certain government contracts with companies that boycott Israel.
Events

Texas Faith & Family Day at the Capitol

Make a difference for faith and family in Texas!

March 13, 2019

Join us for an impactful day at the Texas Capitol where you will equip yourself with important information on religious freedom, marriage & family, parental rights, and pro-life issues, rally with like-minded Texans from across the state, and engage your elected officials in person – all during the important 86th Texas Legislative Session.

For more details and to register, go to https://www.texasfaithandfamily.com/

Featured Speakers:

David Bereit – 40 Days for Life Founder

Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.) – Former Congressman

Schedule

Faith & Family Briefing Session

8:30 AM – 10:45 AM | Capitol Auditorium

Get important issue briefings from leading pro-family organizations and learn how to make an impact for family values during the legislative session.

Office Visits

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM | Capitol Building

After briefing session, you will have time to visit your legislators’ office, encourage them to support key legislation, and invite them to the Noon Rally.

Faith & Family Rally

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM | South Steps of the Capitol Building

Speakers: Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.), David Bereit, Sen. Kelly Hancock, Rep. Matt Schaefer, Rep. Matt Shaheen, Rep. Candy Noble

Lunch

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM | Texas Capitol

Lunch and further office visits

 

For more details and to register, go to https://www.texasfaithandfamily.com/