Discussion of Proposed Amendments to the Texas Constitution 2023

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Guests: Dave & Donna Washam and Joanna Friebele

Proposition 1: Right to Farming, Ranching, Timber Production, Horticulture, and Wildlife Management Amendment

*Pat Schipper: state removes local control

*Dave Washam (Republican Party Chair): it would protect farm/ranch operations from losing their state protections and handing it over to local government.

*Bexar County Democrats recommended Against

Proposition 2: Property Tax Exemption for Child-Care Facilities Amendment

*Dave Washam:

-Conditions to qualify for the program is that 20% of the enrolled children must be receiving benefits from the Texas Employment Commission.

-Would not be a level playing field from one daycare to another because of the minimum

  requirements to qualify for the funding.

-why does it need to be an amendment if it has an expiration date?

*Moumin Quazi (Democratic Party Chair): 

-this could help under-represented and minority owners? I’m generally for this.

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 3: Prohibit Taxes on Wealth or Net Worth Amendment

*Dave Washam:

-question is ‘who will benefit from this?’

-distribution of financial liability

-making it an amendment would prohibit any future action so that a future piece of legislation could not be

  passed without voters having a chance to vote on it.

*Moumin Quazi (Democratic Party Chair): 

-this could help under-represented and minority owners?

*Bexar County Democrats recommended Against

Proposition 4: Property Tax Changes and State Education Funding Amendment

*Pat Schipper:

-exemption expires in 2 years; schools would be reimbursed for lost revenue by the state for those 2 years

-appraised value increases limited as well; expires in 2026

-after 2025, what is my homestead exemption? What happens to our schools in the meantime?

-Jennifer Carey says this bill is just all over the place and it’s hard to understand

*Dave Washam:

-this puts the state in a situation where we wouldn’t have a balanced budget; the Texas constitution mandates a balanced budget.

*Bexar County Democrats recommended Against

Proposition 5: Rename State University Research Fund and Establish Ongoing Revenue Source Amendment

*Dave Washam:

-4 university systems qualify currently; Texas State, North Texas, Texas Tech, University of Houston

-others could qualify in the future; for example 50 doctoral candidates graduating per year 

-another concern is that they’re taking 3.5billion but they are only authorized to spend 100 million per year

*Jeri Martin: 

-a new governmental entity would be created to administer the fund; non-elected

*Moumin Quazi:

-he is for this amendment because he believes that stronger university systems is good for our state

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 6: Creation of the Water Fund Amendment

Pat Schipper:

-administered by the existing Water management board – 3 members appointed by government

-fund is being set up outside of the TX general fund

-2055 700million acre/feet of water

-funds for repairs for aging water 186 billion gallons of water is lost by leaking/breaking water systems in TX

-one source they are looking out is desalination; really being supported by oil/gas companies

-funding – supposed to finance itself with proceeds from investments; cash isn’t going to be handed out; it

  will be in the form of loans

Dave Washam:

-money appropriated will be outside of the budget appropriations

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 7: Creation of State Energy Fund Amendment

Joanna Friebele: 

-proposed to make grid more resiliant and prop up renewables

-mandated since 1999 that renewables have to be used first, so gas peaker plants are not maintained adequately

-currently unlevel playing field bc renewables are highly subsidized; state has come up with this fund to incentivize people to invest in gas peaker plants

-in this past week ERCOT has made a deal with gas peaker plants; $9000 per megawat that

  could make this amendment useless

-loans and grants

-no annual review process

-doesn’t specify that it’s for gas plants

-battery plants are unreliable and very expensive; $2.5 million per megawat

Dave Washam:

-government is becoming more and more involved in private business

-less incentive to improve processes to become competitive; free market is missing 

-no mention of carbon capture requirements

Pat Schipper:

-winterizing is not mentioned

*Bexar County Democrats recommended Against

Proposition 8: Creation of Broadband Infrastructure Fund Amendment 

Pat Schipper:

-rural communities could benefit bc medical facilities would be better connected

Dave Washam:

-broadband would not help emergency service anywhere bc they use radio and line-of-sight types of communications

-his opinion is that the money could actually not really exist in that ‘covid fund’

Joanna Friebele:

-why can’t the free market take care of this expansion?

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 9: Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Teacher Retirement System

Dave Washam:

-mostly a neutral topic

-major concerns; better controls over management of the fund

*Moumin Quazi (recommends FOR):

-long overdue

-would give cost of living raise to retired staff, teachers, and administrators, as well

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 10: Tax Exemption on Medical Equipment and Inventory Amendment

Dave Washam:

-$207 million in lost revenue

-TX Legislature can raise taxes to compensate for the lost revenue

*Bexar County Democrats recommended Against

Proposition 11: Authorize Bond Issues in Conservation and Reclamation Districts in El Paso County Amendment

Dave Washam:

-this is good

Pat Schipper:

-this is a good program

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Proposition 12: Abolish Galveston County Treasurer Amendment

Moumin Quazi:

-not our business; let Galveston choose (if voters approve, Galveston has a choice)

Dave Washam:

-not our business, although they would not recommend it

Proposition 13: Increase Mandatory Retirement Age for State Judges Amendment

Moumin Quazi:

-maximum retirement from 75 to 79

-minimum retirement age is raised to 75

Dave Washam:

-mostly neutral

-concerns about capability playing a role in decisions to retire 

Proposition 14: Creation of the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund Amendment

Moumin Quazi:

-a trust fund outside of the state treasury

-no real objections

Dave Washam:

-no objections

*Bexar County Democrats recommended For

Thanks to the Erath County Democrats for sharing this voting guide with us.

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