ELLIS COUNTY — As voters head to the polls on November 7, they will have to decide the fate of seven state constitutional amendments. These amendments range in topics from granting tax exemptions to setting term limits of office holders appointed by the governor.
Early voting will take place 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Oct. 23-27, 8 a.m. -3 p.m. Oct. 28, 8 a.m. -6 p.m. on Oct. 30- Nov. 1, and 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Nov. 2-3. The primary early voting location is the Ellis County Elections Office located at 204. E. Jefferson St. in Waxahachie. Polling locations across the county will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Nov. 7.
According to a Daily Light article published after the presidential election, the Nov. 8 elections saw 65,385 of the 102,217 register voters in Ellis County cast a ballot for the 45th President of the United States, several state and national seats, two vital local positions and a scroll of propositions. In comparison, 54,030 ballots were cast in Ellis County four years prior, with 34,559 voting early.
Proposition one states that the constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.
According to the Vote Texas website, proposition one would expand the circumstance under which a partially disabled veteran or their spouse may qualify for an exemption from the ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the veteran’s residence homestead.
“Currently, the Texas legislature may provide that a partially disabled veteran or their spouse is entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of a percentage of the market value of the disabled veteran’s residence homestead only if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran,” the website stated. “The amendment would allow the Texas legislature to provide that the exemption also may be taken when the residence homestead was donated, sold, or transferred to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead. The amendment also harmonizes certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.”
Proposition two states that the constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing of home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson stated this proposition would make it a little easier for people to borrow against the equity in their home.
According to Vote Texas website, proposition two is an amendment to require that certain conditions be met for the refinancing of a home equity loan to be secured by a voluntary lien on a homestead. The amendment also would: redefine what is excluded in the calculation of the cap on fees associated with a home equity loan, lower the cap from three percent to two percent of the original principal amount of the extension of credit, and specify that such fees are in addition to any bona fide discount points used to buy down the interest rate.
The amendment would further specify the list of authorized lenders to make home equity loans, change the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, allow agricultural property owners to acquire home equity loans, and update technical terminology in the Texas Constitution
Proposition three states that the constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate after the expiration of the person’s term of office.
“As I understand, it restricts the length that certain gubernatorial appointees term until the next legislative session has ended,” Wilson explained. “This impacts people that are appointed by the governor.”
The Vote Texas website states that the amendment would prevent certain office holders from serving indefinitely beyond the expiration of their term. Officeholders who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate and receive no salary would only be able to serve until the last day of the first regular session of the Texas legislature that begins after their term expires.
Proposition four states that the constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.
According to the Vote Texas website, this amendment would allow the legislature to require any court that is hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute to notify the attorney general of that challenge. This is if the party raising the challenge notifies the court that the party is challenging the constitutionally of the statue.
Proposition five is the constitutional amendment on professional sports team charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles
“This would create a specific carve out of otherwise prohibited raffles to allow certain qualified professional sports teams to conduct raffles that benefit their approved charities or foundations,” Wilson explained. “As I understand the history of that is these sports teams on site at their games have been conducting some kind of charitable raffle, which technically ran afoul of Texas law. I think this was a carve-out to let them continue with those raffles, which I guess most people believe are providing significant benefit to the charitable foundations served by those raffles.”
Vote Texas website states that the amendment to provide a more detailed definition of “professional sports team” for purposes of their charitable foundations, which the Texas legislature may permit to hold charitable raffles.
Proposition six states that the amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.
Wilson stated this proposition would allow the surviving spouse of a first responder that was killed in the line of duty to be exempt from ad valorem property tax if they have not been remarried.
The Vote Texas Website states the amendment that would allow the Texas legislature by general law to provide that a surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is entitled to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation from all or part of the market value on the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder.
Proposition seven states the amendment relating to legislative authority to permits credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.
“The objective of that one is to incentivize finical savings by citizens through credit unions and other financial institutions to allow those institutions to offer prizes almost like a raffle,” Wilson stated. “For instance in creating new accounts or your name can be added to a raffle to win a prize. That is the argument.”
The Vote Texas site states the proposed amendment would make an exception to this general rule to allow the legislature to authorize credit unions and other financial institutions to institute programs which, in order to encourage savings, would award prizes based on luck or chance to the credit union’s or financial institution’s customers.