Along with voting for local offices and bond issues during the upcoming Nov. 7 election, Harris County voters also will be asked to decide the fate of 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.
From questions about property tax breaks to expanding broadband access, the propositions, if approved, could have implications across the state for years to come.
Early voting begins Oct. 23 and runs through Nov. 3.
ELECTION DAY RESULTS: Texas voters show support for 13 out of 14 propositions
Houston Landing has broken down each of the 14 proposed amendments, including what will be included on your ballot, and what those words really mean.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.”
What it means: Proposition 1 seeks to enshrine in the state constitution Texans’ right to farm, ranch and garden on land they own or lease.
State officials still would be able to impose regulations to protect public health, prevent danger to animal health or crop production, or preserve natural resources.
There already are “right to farm” laws on the books in Texas, but some agricultural advocacy groups say existing laws could be bolstered by a constitutionally guaranteed right to farm.
Critics worry a constitutional amendment would make it more difficult for lawmakers to change state farming laws in the future, if necessary.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 1: supports the creation of a constitutional right to farm, ranch or garden on land a person owns or leases in Texas.
Voting “no” on Proposition 1: opposes the creation of a constitutional right to farm, ranch or garden on land a person owns or leases in Texas.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.”
What it means: Proposition 2 would allow county or city governments to create property tax exemptions for child care facilities. Any exemptions would need to cover at least 50 percent of a property’s appraised value.
The legislation also would allow the legislature to define “child care facility” and establish additional eligibility requirements for businesses to receive the exemption.
The idea behind the proposition is that lowering taxes on childcare facility owners would trickle down to more affordable childcare for parents across the state.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 2: would allow city and county governments to create property tax exemptions for child care facility owners.
Voting “no” on Proposition 2: would not allow cities and counties to create property tax breaks for child care facility owners. Texas law currently does not allow exemptions for child care facilities, so voting no on Proposition 2 would keep existing tax laws in place.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual wealth or net worth tax, including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.”
What it means: Proposition 3 would prohibit the Texas Legislature from imposing a tax based on an individual or family’s wealth or net worth.
There currently is not a “wealth tax” in Texas, but Proposition 3, if passed, would prevent the Legislature from passing one in the future without first getting voters to overturn this proposed amendment.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 3: supports limiting lawmakers’ ability to impose a wealth tax in the future and would require them to get approval from voters first.
Voting “no” on Proposition 3: would not impose a wealth tax. Voting no would oppose limitations on lawmakers’ ability to impose a wealth tax in the future and would allow them to create one without first getting approval from voters.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to establish a temporary limit on the maximum appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes; to increase the amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation by a school district applicable to residence homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000; to adjust the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes imposed on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect increases in certain exemption amounts; to except certain appropriations to pay for ad valorem tax relief from the constitutional limitation on the rate of growth of appropriations; and to authorize the legislature to provide for a four-year term of office for a member of the board of directors of certain appraisal districts.”
What it means: Proposition 4 is tied to legislation passed by lawmakers during this summer’s second special session.
If passed, the proposition would increase the homestead tax exemptions for school districts from $40,000 to $100,000. The legislation also includes limits on how much tax can be imposed on elderly and disabled homeowners.
To offset the cost of lost tax revenue for school districts, the state will invest about $7.1 billion of its budget surplus in public schools across the state.
Proposition 4 also would institute a 20 percent appraisal cap per year on non-homestead properties until 2026.
The proposed amendment also would impose four-year term limits on members of an appraisal district’s governing body in counties with a population of 75,000 or more.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 4: supports the rollout of the property tax relief plan passed by state lawmakers during this summer’s second special legislative session.
Voting “no” on Proposition 4: opposes the property tax relief plan passed by the Texas Legislature.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment relating to the Texas University Fund, which provides funding to certain institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities and drive the state economy.”
What it means: Proposition 5 would create a $3.9 billion endowment to fund faculty, research and graduate studies at Texas Tech University, Texas State University, University of North Texas and the University of Houston.
The endowment initially would be funded through a one-time allocation of $3.5 billion from the state’s budget surplus, with subsequent funding coming from the state’s National Research University Fund and interest generated by the Economic Stabilization Fund.
The proposition is aimed at boosting the national profiles of the state’s non-flagship universities. The University of Texas system and Texas A&M University both receive money from the separate Permanent University Fund.
UT and A&M would not be eligible to receive money from this new fund.
No taxes would be created to fund the endowment.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 5: supports the creation of the Texas University Fund.
Voting “no” on Proposition 5: opposes the creation of the Texas University Fund.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state.”
What it means: Proposition 6 would create the Texas Water Fund, a special account in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund, administered by the Texas Water Development Board to help finance water projects across the state.
Potential projects eligible to receive Texas Water Fund money include water infrastructure projects for rural communities and small or mid-size cities, water conservation projects and water loss mitigation projects.
If approved by voters, the legislature already has voted to allocate $1 billion to the fund.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 6: supports the creation of the Texas Water Fund.
Voting “no” on Proposition 6: opposes the creation of the Texas Water Fund.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the Texas energy fund to support the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of electric generating facilities.”
What it means: Proposition 7 would create a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund to finance projects geared toward improving electric generating facilities across the state.
Money from the fund, however, only would be eligible to build, maintain, modernize and operate natural gas facilities.
Wind and solar projects would not be eligible to receive money from the energy fund.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 7: supports the creation of the Texas energy fund.
Voting “no” on Proposition 7: oppose the creation of the Texas energy fund.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.”
What it means: Proposition 8 would create a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund, administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The proposition would allocate $1.5 billion to the fund that could be used to expand broadband internet access in economically distressed communities, administer grants through the Texas Broadband Development office and help match funds for the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program.
Unless extended by the legislature, the broadband infrastructure fund would expire on September 1, 2035.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 8: supports the creation of a state broadband infrastructure fund.
Voting “no” on Proposition 8: opposes the creation of a broadband infrastructure fund.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.”
What it means: Proposition 9 would provide $3.45 billion in bonus checks and cost-of-living raises for retired public school teachers across the state. If approved, it would be the first increase for retired teachers since 2004.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 9: supports providing $3.45 billion in cost-of-living raises for retired teachers.
Voting “no” on Proposition 9: opposes cost-of-living raises for retired teachers across the state.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation equipment or inventory held by a manufacturer of medical or biomedical products to protect the Texas healthcare network and strengthen our medical supply chain.”
What it means: Proposition 10 would provide a tax break to biomedical companies by making the value of medical supplies manufactured there exempt from property taxes. The value of equipment used to manufacture those supplies also would be exempt from taxation.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 10: supports new tax breaks for biomedical manufacturers.
Voting “no” on Proposition 10: opposes the creation of a new tax break for biomedical manufacturers.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.”
What it means: Conservation and reclamation districts in certain counties across Texas (including Harris County) have the ability to issue bonds to help fund parks and recreation facilities. Proposition 11 would add El Paso County to that list of counties.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 11: supports El Paso County’s ability to issue bonds to fund parks and recreation facilities.
Voting “no” on Proposition 11: opposes El Paso County’s ability to issue bonds to fund parks and recreation facilities.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment providing for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County.”
What it means: Proposition 12 would abolish the office of County Treasurer in Galveston County, allowing the Galveston County Commissioners Court to designate another person or office to carry out the treasurer’s duties.
Galveston county’s current treasurer, Hank Dugie, ran on the platform of eliminating the position to save the county money.
Though voters across the state can cast a ballot for or against this proposed amendment, it would take effect only if a majority of the voters in Galveston County who vote on the measure favor the amendment.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 12: supports the elimination of the office of Galveston County Treasurer.
Voting “no” on Proposition 12: opposes the elimination of the office of Galveston County Treasurer.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment to increase the mandatory age of retirement for state justices and judges.”
What it means: Proposition 13 would increase the mandatory retirement age for justices and judges of appellate, district and criminal district courts to 79. The minimum retirement age also would increase to 75.
The Texas Constitution currently requires justices and judges of appellate courts, district courts, and criminal district courts to retire after completing the elected term during which they turn 75 years old, with the minimum retirement age set at 70.
Supporters argue that humans are living longer, healthier lives and the state judiciary could lose out on decades of experience by keeping its current mandatory retirement age.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 13: supports raising the mandatory retirement age for state judges.
Voting “no” on Proposition 13: opposes raising the mandatory retirement age for state judges.
What it says: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used for the creation and improvement of state parks.”
What it means: Proposition 14 would establish the centennial parks conservation fund with an allocation of $1 billion. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would be able to use money from the fund to create new state parks and improve existing ones.
In fiscal 2022, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department budgeted $94.9 million toward managing its capital programs, which includes making improvements and major repairs, acquiring land and managing infrastructure.
According to a report by Environment Texas, the state ranks 35th in the nation for state park acreage per capita, with only about 2.4 percent of land protected.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 14: supports the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund.
Voting “no” on Proposition 14: opposes the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund.