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There are other propositions on the ballot, too

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Proposition 2, the Double Secret Illegal Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment, and the reasons why you should vote NO on it. There are eight other amendments on the ballot this year as well, and so far I’ve not seen a whole lot of discussion about any of them.

The main exceptions are Props 1 and 9. Here’s the ballot language and brief explanation from the Secretary of State:

Prop. 1 HJR 54 McClendon – Staples

Ballot Language
“The constitutional amendment creating the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund and authorizing grants of money and issuance of obligations for financing the relocation, rehabilitation, and expansion of rail facilities.”

Brief Explanation
HJR 54 would create a Texas rail relocation and improvement fund in the state treasury and would authorize grants of state revenue and issuance of public debt to relocate, rehabilitate, and expand privately and publicly owned passenger and freight rail facilities and to construct railroad underpasses and overpasses.

Prop. 9 HJR 79 Krusee – Staples

Ballot Language
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a six-year term for a board member of a regional mobility authority.”

Brief Explanation
HJR 79 would authorize the Legislature to provide staggered six year terms of office for board members serving on regional mobility authorities, with no more than one-third of the board positions being appointed every two years.

Not a whole lot to go on, is there? Sal Costello strongly opposes each. He’s also weighed in on discussion threads for each proposal at the CTC Forums. I’d really like to see an argument in favor of these proposals before I make up my mind on them. If anyone would like to oblige, or to add to Sal’s comments, please do so.

Most of the rest are so vague that without doing a load of research I can’t tell what kind of an effect they might have. For example, Proposition 5:

Prop. 5 SJR 21 Averitt – Flynn

Ballot Language
“The constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to define rates of interest for commercial loans.”

Brief Explanation
SJR 21 would authorize the Legislature to exempt commercial loans from state usury laws that set maximum interest rates. “Commercial loans” are loans made primarily for business, commercial, investment, agricultural, or similar purposes and not primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.

I confess, I don’t know why the Lege doesn’t already have this power. I also don’t know why they would want to do this, and who might be affected by it. Yes, I know that I can dig up all the information that I need, but let’s be honest. How many people, when faced with this proposition in November, are going to have any clue about it? What, exactly, is the point of putting it to a popular vote, especially given the tiny statewide turnout that we’ll have in this off-year election?

Prop 7 (“The constitutional amendment authorizing line-of-credit advances under a reverse mortgage.”) had Scott Hochberg as its House sponsor, so I feel pretty good about supporting it. Beyond that, who knows? And of course, it wouldn’t be an AmendmentFest if we weren’t contemplating the addition of something like Prop 8 to our overbloated State Constitution:

Prop. 8 SJR 40 Eltife – Hughes

Ballot Language
“The constitutional amendment providing for the clearing of land titles by relinquishing and releasing any state claim to sovereign ownership or title to interest in certain land in Upshur County and in Smith County.”

Brief Explanation
SJR 40 would clear individual land titles by relinquishing and releasing all claims of state ownership interests, including mineral interests, in two local areas, namely, a roughly 4,600 acre area located roughly 14 miles southeast of Gilmer, Texas, and a separate 900 acre area located north of Tyler, Texas.

If anyone can think of a good reason why this sort of thing rises to the level of constitutional amendment-ness, please do enlighten me.

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4 Comments

  1. anonymous says:

    http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/pubsconamend/analyses05/analyses05.pdf contains an explanation of the amendments and arguments for and against.

  2. Bucky says:

    Kuff, the state constitution is a mess–ridiculously long on details. That’s why every time some dinky little county north of Amarillo wants to save money by combining the functions of its Assessor-Collector and its County Treasurer offices, or every time some podunk Valley country wants to create a new flood district, you have to have a state wide referendum.

    It’s called Jacksonian democracy and its something that works really well so long as you have a well educated voting public. If everyone watches Survivor and listens to Rush Radio, then it’s a mess.

    Thirty years ago there was a state constitutional convention that basically offered a new amendment making everything null and void and rewriting the state constitution as a simpler, more logical document. Then the referendum failed when right wingers applied scare tactics to defeat it.

    As a rule of thumb, whenever I see one of these local county government amendments, I vote yes. I figured the locals petitioned their state rep to introduce this amdendment and the principle of home rule means they really ought to be able to manage their own affairs.

    But that’s just me,

    –Bucky
    a Brown Bag Blog

  3. Greg Wythe says:

    Indeed, the state const. is a wreck. In partial response to that reality, I tend to make it a practice to vote against constitutional amendments lacking any clear and obvious understanding of an operational efficiency that’s at stake.

    At quick glance, the only one that seems to meet that hurdle for my own sake is Prop. 5. Not a matter of worldview, in that I think it should be legal regardless of whether one thinks the lege should start fiddling with precise rates of interest or not. But allow the tool in the toolbox and I’m willing to let the lege decide whether or not (or how) to use it.

    The rest, I’m sitting on a “No” unless I hear something to change my mind.

  4. Jeb says:

    Prop. 8 is on there because no one in state government can give something of value away for free.