Voters to start casting ballots this month on 7 Constitutional Amendments

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Voters this November will take up seven propositions for Constitutional Amendments based on the work by legislators this past session. The issues range from homestead exemptions for veterans to caps on fees that can be charged for home loans. Details about the election and voting dates may be found at the Texas Secretary of State's website.

Proposition 1 (House Joint Resolution 21) The constitutional amendment proposed by HJR 21 amends Subsection (I) of Section 1-b, Article VIII, Texas Constitution, to authorize the legislature to expand the exemption authorized by that subsection to include a residence homestead donated to a disabled veteran by a charitable organization "for less than the market value of the residence homestead, including at no cost" to the veteran, instead of only at "no cost" to the veteran. Representative Shine was Joint Author of this legislation.

Proposition 2 (Senate Joint Resolution 60) The constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 60 would amend the Texas Constitution to revise the cap on fees that can be charged when making a home equity loan, allow the refinancing of home equity loans into non-home equity loans, repeal a prohibition on home equity loans for agricultural homesteads, revise a provision governing home equity lines of credit, and amend the list of approved lenders.

Proposition 3 (Senate Joint Resolution 34) The constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 34 would end the requirement of continuous performance of duties for gubernatorial appointees to unpaid state offices on the last day of the first regular session of the legislature that begins after the expiration of the officer's term.

Proposition 4 (Senate Joint Resolution 6) The constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 6 authorizes the legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general if a party to litigation challenges the constitutionality of a state statute. The resolution also proposes a temporary provision to validate an existing statute, which has been held unconstitutional, requiring a court to provide notice to the attorney general of challenges to the constitutionality of state statutes and prescribing a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding a statute unconstitutional.

Proposition 5 (House Joint Resolution 100) Currently the constitution allows the legislature to permit a professional sports team charitable foundation to conduct a charitable raffle at games hosted at the home venue of the professional sports team associated with a foundation. The constitutional amendment defines "professional sports team".

Proposition 6 (Senate Joint Resolution 1) The constitutional amendment proposed by SJR 1 authorizes the legislature to provide the surviving spouses of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty a property tax exemption for all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse's residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder. Also to receive an exemption from property taxation on the surviving spouse's subsequently qualified residence homestead in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the exemption for the former homestead in the last year in which the surviving spouse received the exemption for the former homestead. The proposed amendment applies only to property taxes imposed for a tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2018.

Proposition 7 (House Joint Resolution 37) The constitutional amendment proposed by HJR 37 specifies that the constitutional provision requiring the legislature to pass laws prohibiting most lotteries and gift enterprises, which includes most forms of gambling, in Texas does not prohibit the legislature from authorizing credit unions and other financial institutions to promote savings by awarding prizes to one or more of the credit union's or financial institution's depositors selected by lot.