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Nov. 3 Texas ballot includes constitutional amendments and some elected offices

Texas broadcasters have just entered the fall political window for the Nov. 3 general and constitutional amendment election. Some jurisdictions, notably, the City of Houston, use the fall general election date for municipal elections.

For these such areas, political window is important to broadcasters as legally qualified candidates for offices on the ballot are entitled to lowest unit charge (LUC). LUC is among a number of FCC provisions triggered by the start of the window which apply only to legally qualified candidates.

It looks likely that none of the candidates for Houston mayor will secure more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing a December runoff. Runoff election advertising, which will be entitled to LUC, would come at a time when area retailers will be advertising holiday sales.

Ads regarding constitutional amendments, the items on the ballot statewide, are not entitled to LUC. With a simple “yes” or “no” as the choices, there are no runoffs.

Amendment elections in years past have been lucrative to broadcasters as there were large scale advertising efforts favoring or opposing such measures. This November’s constitutional amendment election, however, is not such an affair.

Texas voters will decide on seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on Nov. 3, only one of which could have an effect on their pocketbooks. None of the amendments is controversial, and as such, there’s only been a smattering of broadcast advertising in favor of passage, specifically for Propositions 1 and 7.

Proposition 1, the homestead exemption increase for school property taxes, is perhaps the best known of the seven on the ballot. The measure proposes to increase the current exemption amount by $10,000, from $15,000 to $25,000.

The other issue garnering some broadcast advertising in favor of passage is Proposition 7 which would boost the Texas Department of Transportation’s budget for roads by allowing a portion of revenues from the state sales tax, auto rental tax and the motor vehicle tax to be funneled to the State Highway Fund. The move would dedicate about $2.5 billion of sales tax revenue to the fund at the start of 2017.

The propositions (in the order they are listed on the Nov. 3 ballot), as well as their enabling legislation and bill authors, are:

Proposition 1
(SJR 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound)

"The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property."

Effect:  Increases the mandatory homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000. The taxable value of homesteads owned by the elderly or people who are disabled also would be correspondingly reduced.

Proposition 2
(HJR 75 by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton)

“The constitutional 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 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”

Effect:   Extends the current homestead property tax exemption that applies to the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran to the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran who died before Jan. 1, 2010.   A surviving spouse who otherwise qualified would be entitled to an exemption of the same portion of the market value of the same property to which the disabled veteran’s exemption would have applied.

Proposition 3
(SJR 52 by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-San Antonio)

“The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.”

Effect:  Removes the requirement that the Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Attorney General and any statutory state officer elected statewide reside in Austin during their terms of office.

Proposition 4
(HJR 73 by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Ft. Worth)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.”

Effect:  Allows a professional sports team’s charitable foundation to conduct charitable raffles.  Such foundations may pay “reasonable” advertising, promotional and administrative expenses with the raffle proceeds.

Proposition 5
(SJR 17 by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock)

“The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.”

Effect:  Increases from 5,000 to 7,500 the maximum population limit for a county to be able to construct and maintain private roads.  Counties must impose a “reasonable” charge for the work.

Proposition 6
(SJR 22 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe)

“The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”

Effect:  Establishes the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife under the Texas Bill of Rights.  Provides that hunting and fishing are the preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife in Texas.

Proposition 7
(SJR 5 by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville)

“The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for non-tolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.

Effect:  A portion of the sales, use and rental tax charged when buying, using or renting a motor vehicle in Texas will go to the State Highway Fund (SHF).

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