Early voting begins Monday across Texas for the Nov. 5 election, which features nine amendments to the Texas Constitution. In East Texas, Gilmer voters also will vote on a proposed school bond issue, and Carthage voters will decide whether to expand beer and wine sales in their city.
Among the statewide measures, a marquee question is Proposition 6, which would use $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to finance major water infrastructure projects. If approved, it would authorize a one-time payment from Texas’ cash reserves — which have been bolstered by the oil and natural gas boom and are projected to balloon to $11.8 billion by August 2015 if left untouched — to bolster water supplies statewide.
Like all amendments on the ballot, it was approved by two-thirds majorities of the Texas House and Senate and now must receive approval from a simple majority of voters to pass.
Gov. Rick Perry has been campaigning for approval of the measure, saying it would help spur an eventual $30 billion in economic development. He has said the proposed amendment is a way to ensure Texas has enough natural resources to keep pace with its rapid economic growth and population increases without raising taxes “a single penny.”
The funding would pay for building new reservoirs and pipelines, as well as desalination plants and other projects to conserve and reuse water. Perry has declined to divulge which projects have priority, saying what’s most pressing could change if a sudden tropical storm or hurricane brings increased rainfall to some parts of drought-stricken Texas.
“We just cannot afford to come up short on this,” he said. “We need to do everything within reason to meet our increasing water needs in this state.”
The measure is opposed by state Rep. David Simpson. The Longview Republican said this past week “it would unnecessarily expand state government into investment banking, which is better performed by the private sector in a free market.”
A couple of other amendments would provide tax exemptions for military veterans and their survivors.
Proposition 1 would provide a tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who was killed in action. Under the amendment, the spouse would be exempt from paying local property taxes based on all or part of the total appraised value of the residence homestead. Proposition 4 would provide a property tax exemption to partially disabled veterans or surviving spouses “if the homestead has been donated by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran.” The proposition would also allow the legislature to provide additional eligibility requirements.
Here’s a look at the remaining propositions:
Proposition 2: Would eliminate an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.
Proposition 3: Would extend the number of days aircraft parts can be held temporarily by a business in Texas as part of a free port exemption.
Proposition 5: Authorizes making a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and would amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.
Proposition 7: Would allow Texas cities with more than 5,000 residents to provide in its charter a procedure to fill a governing body vacancy without a special election if the unexpired term is 12 months or less.
Proposition 8: Repeals Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.
Proposition 9: Expands the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice after a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
The election also will be the first in which voters will be required to present photo identification to mark a ballot.
Voters will be required to show one of the following forms of identification when they reach their polling destination:
- Texas driver license issued by DPS.
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS.
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS.
- Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS.
- U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph.
- U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.
- U.S. passport.
Any resident who does not have the other forms of identification and would like a free Election Identification Certificate can visit one of four mobile stations across the county set up Monday by the Department of Public Safety. The IDs also are available at regular DPS offices across East Texas.
The mobile sites planned for Monday are Broughton Recreation Center, the community centers in Greggton and Kilgore, and Gladewater City Hall. The stations will be manned from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Early voting in East Texas
Gregg County: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and Oct. 28-Oct. 30, first floor, room 108 of the Gregg County Courthouse, 101 E. Methvin St., Longview. Also, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, first floor, room 108 of the Gregg County Courthouse.
Upshur County: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, Upshur County Courthouse, 100 W. Tyler St. in Gilmer.
Harrison County: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday; Oct. 28-Oct. 30, Nov. 1. Harrison County Elections Office, 415 E. Burleson St. in Marshall. Also, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Harrison County Elections Office in Marshall and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building in Longview, T.J. Taylor Community Center in Karnack and Constables Office in Elysian Fields. Also, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, Harrison County Elections Office, Community Center in Harleton, Gold Hall in Hallsville and subcourthouse in Waskom.
Rusk County: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday, Oct. 28-29 and Oct. 31-Nov. 1. Also, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Oct. 30. Rusk County Election Office, 204 N. Main St. in Henderson.
Panola County: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Panola County Voter Office’s new location, 522 W. College St. in Carthage.