Many state representatives are encouraging Texas voters to go to the polls this year in support of several ballot propositions. Early voting in Texas’ November elections begins Monday, two weeks before polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.

Many state representatives are encouraging Texas voters to go to the polls this year in support of several ballot propositions. Early voting in Texas’ November elections begins Monday, two weeks before polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.


The most talked-about measure on the ballot is Proposition 6, a bond-creating measure. If voters approve the proposition, the Texas Legislature will have permission to use $2 billion from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, or rainy day fund, to create a separate fund to finance water infrastructure projects.


The proposition was briefly discussed at Thursday’s Red River Groundwater Conservation District Board meeting, where General Manager Jerry Chapman said the fund created by Proposition 6 would be a "rotating fund" of cash, loaned by the state to private and municipal water infrastructure developers at favorable interest rates.


The water bond measure has wide support in the Texas government and state officials have encouraged voters to show their support for it at the polls. Visiting the Sherman Rotary Club in September, state Sen. Craig Estes called the proposition "hugely important."


Estes, whose district includes Grayson County, said that Texas has recently experienced "tremendous economic growth in this state, and it’s put a strain on our water infrastructure," a sentiment that has been echoed by many other Texas lawmakers and officials.


Gov. Rick Perry said in a press release about the bond measure, "As we face the ongoing effects of drought, combined with our economic and population growth, we simply can’t wait any longer. If Texas is to remain the best place to live, work, grow a business or raise a family, we must ensure adequate supplies for generations to come. That’s why Prop. 6 is so important to the future of this state."


The measure is a source of some controversy, since it dips into the state’s rainy day fund. The non-partisan House Research Organization summarized the opposition to the measure by saying, "Opponents say the Rainy Day Fund would not be an appropriate source of funding. Taking $2 billion out of the fund could result in a credit downgrade and curtail the state’s ability to deal with a revenue shortfall, a natural disaster, or a school finance case decision that required additional state spending on public education."


In its guide for voters on the propositions on the November ballot, the HRO notes that opponents to the measure have also said "entities needing water infrastructure project funding already have tremendous access to capital. The Texas Water Development Board has several lending programs for water infrastructure through bonding programs that use the state’s superior credit rating to guarantee water debt."


The HRO said the state’s Water Development Board has approved "general obligation bond authority not to exceed $6 billion at any time," and that "spending rainy day funds for infrastructure projects that already have access to capital would be inappropriate."


Both sides on the issue agree that Texans must take some measures now to address Texas’ pressing drought problems.


Chapman said at the RRGCD meeting that the state legislature has created groundwater districts across the state. The groundwater management districts are required to submit a plan for how groundwater will be managed in their district for the next 50 years.


The Texas Water Development Board reported, "critical water shortages will increase during the next 50 years," and "the capital costs to design, build or implement the recommended strategies between now and 2060 will be $53 billion."


Other propositions up for consideration by Texans are less controversial and involve smaller budgetary concerns.


According to a guide to the November ballot produced by the Texas League of Women Voters, Proposition 1 "would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who was killed in action to be exempt from paying local property taxes.


Proposition 2 is a "constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Fund, neither of which is operational."


Proposition 3 is a measure that would allow the state to expand its tax exemption program for valuable goods that are passing through the state. If voters pass the proposition, taxing bodies of the state could "extend the number of days that aircraft parts are exempt" from taxation, if the parts are just passing through the state.


The Texas Legislative Council said of the opposition to Proposition 3, "questions raised in the House floor debate about the cost of the amendment to local governments, as well as costs to the state when offsetting lost school district tax revenue, remain unanswered."


Proposition 4 is another measure intended to benefit military veterans. The League of Women Voters said of the proposition, "Texas charitable organizations have given homes to disabled veterans, but in some cases the veteran is unable to pay the property taxes, resulting in an unintended consequence of foreclosure."


Proposition 4 would create a tax exemption for disabled veterans that eliminates that unintended consequence. The Texas Legislative Council said "no comments opposing the proposed amendment were made during the House and Senate hearings (or debate). However, a review of other sources indicated concern that singling out specific groups for property tax exemptions could erode local property tax bases and undermine uniformity in taxation."


Proposition 5 would amend the Texas Constitution to allow financing companies to sell a product called a "reverse mortgage for purchase." According to the League of Women Voters, "Texas is the second largest market in the country for reverse mortgages, but the only state that does not allow the ‘reverse mortgage for purchase,’ because it is not authorized in the state Constitution."


The Legislative Council reported that no legislators voiced any opposition to the amendment, but the HRO said, "Opponents say Texas was slow to embrace reverse mortgages as a result of the long history of skepticism towards home lending in this state. … Prop. 5 could expand the demand for a type of loan product that often results in significant interest charges and can leave senior homeowners with greater debt than equity in their homes."


Proposition 7 is an amendment to the state Constitution that would authorize Texas cities with an independent charter to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less. This amendment would allow city councils and other governing bodies to replace lost members without holding a special election.


Proposition 8 is an amendment repealing a section of the Constitution that deals specifically with Hidalgo County’s ability to form a hospital district.


Proposition 9 would amend the Texas Constitution to expand "the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct."


Currently, the SCJC can only "issue an order of public censure or recommend removal or retirement of the judge/justice," according to the LVW, but if voters approve the amendment, "the SCJC may, at its discretion, issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that the person obtain additional training or education, as well as the censure or formal recommendations of resignation or retirement."


According to the HRO, supporters of the amendment say "public information about investigations into alleged judicial misconduct could help Texans accurately assess the judiciary and judges and whether the process was fair and effective. … It could enhance confidence in the judiciary and judges."


The HRO’s guide to the amendments on the ballot said that opponents of Proposition 9 argue, "provisions restricting potential actions by the Commission after a formal proceeding are appropriate because they help ensure that formal proceedings are used only in the most serious cases of alleged judicial misconduct."