2017 Constitutional Amendments: Our Recommendations

On November 7th, 2017, Texans will vote on seven proposed amendments to the state’s constitution. Texans for Fiscal Responsibility offers our views and recommendations.

2017 TFR Constitutional Amendments Download the PDF version!

PROPOSITION 1

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.”

What it means: This cleanup amendment would change an amendment approved by Texas voters in 2011 and would authorize property tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses whose homes were donated to them by charity for less than market value.

TFR Stance: Support Proposition 1

Our Reasoning: This is a clean-up amendment for a constitutional amendment that TFR supported in 2011 and Texas voters approved.

PROPOSITION 2

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing for home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.”

What it means: This amendment will trim regulations concerning how much Texans can borrow through home equity loans.

TFR Stance: Support Proposition 2

Our Reasoning: The less that government interferes in the free market, the more options citizens will have and the less they will pay.

PROPOSITION 3

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate after the expiration of the person’s term of office.”

What it means: This amendment would eliminate “holdover” appointments by removing officeholders from their positions at the conclusion of their term rather than allowing them to stay on until their position has been filled through appointment.

TFR Stance: Support Proposition 3

Our Reasoning: Appointed office holders shouldn’t be allowed to remain in office far beyond the expiration of their term, a practice which has unfortunately become very common in Texas. This amendment encourages the governor and the Texas Legislature to be more effective and diligent in their appointments.

PROPOSITION 4

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.”

What it means: This amendment would require courts to notify the Texas Attorney General if a case could impact the constitutionality of a state law.

TFR Stance: Support Proposition 4

Our Reasoning: This amendment would allow the Texas Legislature and the Texas Attorney General to be better informed about challenges to existing state law so they could either defend the laws or adjust them.

PROPOSITION 5

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment on professional sports team charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.”

What it means: This amendment would expand the definition of “professional sports team,” giving more organizations the ability to conduct “charitable raffles.”

TFR Stance: Against Proposition 5

Our Reasoning: While seemingly innocuous, this amendment would expand state-sanctioned gambling. State-sanctioned gambling is a corrupting force for Texas government.

PROPOSITION 6

What it reads: “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 first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

What it means: This amendment would allow the Texas Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for surviving spouses of first responders killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.

TFR Stance: Neutral on Proposition 6

Supporters say: Honoring the spouses of first responders is a noble undertaking.

Critics say: Texans should be concerned about the rampant growth in constituencies receiving property tax exemptions. These exemptions risk making Swiss cheese of the tax code, leaving taxpayers outside of the exceptions to pick up the costs.

PROPOSITION 7

What it reads: “The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.”

What it means: This amendment would allow banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to conduct promotional activities such as “savings promotion raffles.”

TFR Stance: Neutral on Proposition 7

Supporters say: This amendment would give banks and credit unions the ability to host savings promotion raffles, also known as prize-linked savings accounts (PLSAs), which offer incentives to save rather than spend or gamble away earnings.

Critics say: This amendment amounts to a carve-out for one industry to do a raffle and would be the only non-charitable raffle allowed in the state.

Want to take Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s recommendations with you when you vote? We’ve crafted a guide you can take with you, or share with your friends and family. Download it here!

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Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire serves as Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the premier project of Empower Texans. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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