Voting these days seems likes a treacherous minefield, replete with orange goons, money laundering Ukrainian subordinates, and some guy with a mommy fetish. And while the ballot language for election day in Texas — which is this Tuesday, November 7 — may be complicated, I hope to help you steer clear of any yuge pitfalls.
There are seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution up for a vote, as well as five City of Houston bond proposals.
Prop One: Disabled Veterans Tax Exemption for Donated Homes
Partially-disabled veterans and their spouses currently receive a tax break if their home was donated to them and they paid nothing. This proposition would allow vets to receive a break if they paid something for their donated home, relieving them of an undue property-tax burden they may not be able to afford.
This proposition receives a YES vote from most; however, some argue this exemption follows a pattern of offering relief to specific groups, thus placing an undue tax burden on those around them, and that the legislature should be finding ways to relieve the tax burden for everyone.
While I don’t disagree with the opposition argument, I don’t think making an example of disabled citizens is the best place to start re-writing the tax code.
I’m voting Yes.
Prop Two: Home Equity Loan Provisions
OK, this is a little difficult to follow, and I own a home. Basically, the proposition argues it will lower costs for homebuyers/homeowners, and allow for a game of home-based loan chess to either combine and refinance in order to benefit the consumer and give them a great diversity of option to purchase, refinance, or apply for another loan. Some pretty loose strings.
Texas has some stringent policies on what a person can borrow against the value of their home. There was this whole thing in the ’80s where the economy took a downturn, but Texas did relatively OK because of these policies. Y’all remember the big economic uh-oh in 2007? Well, big banks and lenders were hamstrung by the government to stop being such irresponsible, lying assholes and selling the American Dream on the back of some super bad loans, which, in turn, ruined the American Economy.
I have a feeling this amendment is a bit of a strong arm from lenders to get back into the business of making stupid amounts of money at the expense of consumers. To quote The Austin Chronicle, “This seems a textbook example of legislation that does not belong in a constitution, nor on a ballot.”
So, it’s gonna be a No from me fam.
Prop Three: Term Limits for Governor-Appointed Positions
You know how a lot of people are really concerned about the fact Trump’s Administration has a lot (see: hundreds) of key government positions completely vacant? Well, this is a lot like that.
Once a governor leaves office, all of the senate-approved positions said governor appointed will be vacant. Yeah, maybe you don’t want someone of the opposite party serving a volunteer holdover position in your administration, but until you name and confirm someone to replace them, it’s probably best to keep the government running instead of making political hay over the bureaucratic annoyance of government turnover. I have no qualms with the current system.
I am going with No.
Prop Four: Delay Court Judgment on Constitutionality Cases
Wanna sue the government or petition the constitutionality of state statute? You can, but the court has to notify the attorney general now, and then there’s a 45 day waiting period before the court can enter in a judgement.
A proposition similar to this was deemed unconstitutional in 2013 (after passing in 2011). Why are we doing this again? Not only does this amendment sway the balance of power between branches of the government, it also impedes a Texan’s right to seek justice.
A HELL NO.
Prop Five: Professional Sports Team Charitable Raffles
So, gambling and sports. There was already an amendment in 2016 allowing sports teams to hold charitable raffles, but the language specified “major league” teams. The language here stipulates “professional.” Oh, and this proposition allows for folks to use their debit cards to pay for tickets, instead of solely cash.
Maybe I just hate fun, or maybe I am suspicious of possible “foundations” these teams will support. Trump used campaign donations and foundation money to get himself a portrait.
I am remaining paranoid (not fun) and sliding in with a NO.
Prop Six: Property Tax Exemptions for Survivors of First Responders
Spouses of first responders get a property tax exemption, based on market value. If they move, they still receive an exemption on their new house. If the re-marry, the exemption is null.
Arguments here are similar for Prop One: no undue burden for one versus undue burden for others. I feel like you can extrapolate this argument out to pretty much cover a lot of topics in this country. Do families whose loved ones were killed unjustly by the state receive any benefits? No. But do I, again, feel like this is the best place to make such an argument? I don’t know. You decide. The world is awful.
I am saying Yes.
Prop Seven: Promotional Raffles
Banks would be able to hold promotional savings events by conducting a raffle. This is non-charitable, or I guess charitable if you win the raffle.
This is a crazy slippery-slope. What other business are going to lobby the state to be able to hold their own raffles? Why does this belong in the Texas Constitution? Seriously, why are we writing non-charitable bank raffles into our state’s highest document? This doesn’t concern you? We’re straight up re-writing the state constitution to resemble some sort of business charter. Houston can’t get an equal rights amendment passed because some of y’all are afraid to let people use a bathroom, but let’s totally ignore the fact our current legislative body is making a complete mockery of our state.
NO. No. Just stop it.
City of Houston Bonds
Money for Police Officers’ and Municipal Employee Pensions. (Yeah, you’ll get taxed). OK.
Paying for more things for public safety.
Money for, of all things, conservation! Wildlife preservation! Green Spaces! Fixing up the bayous! Health! Water quality! Oh my god, Houston, who are you? Come here often? It’s a Yes.
More. Public. Health. And. Wellness. (And yes, additional taxes.) Yes.
Public library improvements. Wow. Yes please.