Texans pass 2 pandemic-focused state constitution changes

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas voters approved all eight amendments to the state’s constitution in the November election, two of which lawmakers proposed in response to restrictions put in place during the pandemic. 

Due to March’s stay-at-home order and capacity limits on businesses, attending religious services was, at times, limited or barred at the start of the pandemic. Proposition 3, which passed with 62.4% of the vote, bans state and local officials from enacting occupancy limits on religious services or outright prohibiting them altogether, even during a natural disaster or pandemic. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, visitors were barred from entering nursing homes and assisted living centers. Proposition 6, which passed with 87.9% of the vote, allows certain residents of homes and centers to choose one person to serve as their caregiver and receive in-person visitation privileges. 

Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, authored the House bill related to Proposition 6 during the regular session. He said the pandemic showed so many people how essential it is to be with a loved one during times of crisis.

“We heard countless, countless stories of people that were literally trapped in nursing homes by themselves without being able to see loved ones for months and months on end,” Frank said.

There were other propositions on the ballot as well, ranging in a wide variety of topics. 

Proposition 1, which passed with 83.8% of the vote, allows professional rodeo charitable foundations that are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo events.

Proposition 2, which passed with 63.1% of the vote, grants counties the authority to issue bonds or notes, financed by property tax increases, to develop infrastructure and transportation in underdeveloped areas. While cities already have this authority, counties currently do not.

Proposition 4, which passed with 58.8% of the vote, is a product of the work done by the Judicial Selection Commission during the interim session. It will revise certain judicial officers’ eligibility requirements. While the commission did not propose a method of changing the judicial selection process, its members unanimously agreed judicial qualifications should be increased.

Proposition 5, which passed with 59.2% of the vote, allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) to conduct investigations into candidates running for a state judicial office, not just people who currently hold judicial office. 

Proposition 7, which passed with 87.1% of the vote, allows a surviving spouse to continue to receive a limitation on school district property taxes if the disabled, deceased spouse was 55 years old or older when they died.

Proposition 8, which passed with 87.8% of the vote, provides a property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of an armed service member who was killed or injured in the line of duty. Currently, the tax exemption only applies to service members who are killed or injured in action. Therefore, if the cause of a service member’s death or injury is unrelated to combat, the surviving spouse does not qualify for a property tax exemption.

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