AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Early voting begins Monday, October 21 throughout Texas. Registered voters will be deciding on 10 propositions approved by the state legislature during the 86th Legislative Session.
MyHighPlains sat down with Chris Macaulay, a political science assistant professor at West Texas A&M University, to discuss those propositions. “As a result of their legislative session, in the odd number years, any constitutional amendments have to be voted on by the people,” Macaulay explained.
Macaulay explained that many of this year’s propositions are dealing with bonds and taxes related to flooding and hurricanes.
“A lot of these things have to do with empowering local government and various organizations to raise money and deal with the damage that comes out of these natural disasters,” Macaulay said.
Some of these are aiming to allow local governments to raise funds without the constant need for authorization from the state.
But Macaulay explained the fourth proposition is one of the most important.
“The most controversial one has to do with the state income tax. It would add an explicit prohibition to any state income tax to the constitution,” Macualay said.
Currently, if the legislature decides to impose a state income tax, it goes to the voters for a majority vote to go into effect. This proposition would add another hurdle.
“So either way voters would have to approve it the only thing it would add is you would need to amend the constitution and you would need a two-thirds majority in the State House and State Senate to get the state income tax imposed,” Macaulay continued.
The last proposition on the ballot doesn’t have to do with taxes, at all. It has to do with dogs.
“Amendment 10 is an amendment that will allow police departments to give or gift or allow retiring police dogs to go to their former handlers that were police officers themselves,” Macaulay said.
Currently, the police dogs are treated as government property and need to be auctioned off.
“It would allow the local sheriff to make a determination of what’s in the animal’s best interest. And now the dog no longer has an official duty, he just gets to live out the rest of his life or her life with the police officer at home,” Macaulay added.
These are the propositions, according to the Texas Secretary of State:
- The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.
- The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.
- The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.
- The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.
- The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.
- The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
- The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.
- The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.
- The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.
- The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.