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With Voter Registration Closed, Eyes Turn to Nov. 5 General Election

- Constitutional Amendments, Three Texas House Races

When Texans head to the ballot box Nov. 5 all will be asked to weigh in on a passel of meat-and-potatoes issues, while some voters in Dallas and Houston are slated to select successors to three State Representatives who’ve resigned mid-term.

Dallas voters residing in House District 100 will choose a successor to Democrat Eric Johnson who was recently elected Mayor of Dallas. Harris County voters in House District 148 will select a successor to Democrat Jessica Farrar. Both seats are likely to remain in D hands.

But Republican John Zerwas’ retirement from the House District 28 seat in Fort Bend County could result in his seat flipping to the Democrats as demographics there continue to trend blue. Low voter turnout common in special elections could delay that flip to November 2020.

Constitutional Amendments
The 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution range from the procedural to the substantive and most have garnered yawning support, but one – regarding the existing high hurdle for voters to approve an income tax on “natural persons” – is getting the stink-eye in some circles. That’s because the proposed amendment would prohibit imposing an income tax on an “individual.”

In short, some policy wonks think the new wording could provide the grounds for a court challenge of the state’s franchise tax which generates about $8 billion for the state’s two-year budget, similar to how another constitutional amendment approved years ago has resulted in differing treatments of residential and commercial property owners’ appraisal appeals.

These critics worry that an entity paying the business franchise tax would use the new language, combined with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from a few years ago equating corporations to people, to invalidate the franchise tax.

Other critics note that the Constitution already imposes a nearly insurmountable hurdle for an income tax: two-thirds approval of the Legislature to secure a public vote.

Aside from the income tax question, Proposition 6 would double to $6 billion the state’s investment in the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. In addition to saving lives, the proposition represents an investment in the well-being of Texans as do other propositions regarding basic infrastructure and disaster recovery.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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