Texans to Vote on Local Propositions, State Constitutional Amendments in Special Election
AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting for Texas’ joint constitutional amendment and local proposition election kicked off on Monday and is set to continue through May 3.
There are two statewide propositions for Texans to vote on in addition to numerous local initiatives. Statewide ballot measures are referred by the Texas Legislature while local measures can be petitioned for consideration in special elections.
The first of the propositions would reduce the amount of property taxes elderly and disabled residents pay to public schools. The second proposition would raise the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for school district property taxes, lowering statewide school property taxes by an average of $176 annually.
Texas’ effective real estate property tax rate is one of the highest in the nation at 1.8%, according to the Tax Foundation. Because the Lone Star State lacks individual income taxes, it relies more heavily on property taxes to prop up state-level revenues.
Amendments to the state Constitution must be approved by a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber during a legislative session to be eligible for inclusion on the ballot. The measures Texans are voting on this year were approved in August 2021 during a special legislative session called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
While early voting lasts all week, Election Day will be held May 7, when voters will have their last chance to weigh in on the total of 25 local ballot measures across Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth.
Fort Worth voters will have 18 propositions to consider at the polls, each dealing with issues ranging from bond issuances to increasing the salaries of the mayor and city council members. Bonds are being considered for improvements to roads, open spaces and public fire safety as well as for funding the police department.
Bond issues totaling $560 million in proposed funds are up for consideration in Fort Worth, including $369.2 million for roads and transportation infrastructure according to the Tarrant County elections website.
Another proposition in Fort Worth would strike language from the city charter governing rules around the removal of local government appointees and employees. An aye vote on the proposition supports amending the city charter to remove the option for city officials to request a public city council hearing about their removal if they are removed within six months from the start of their tenure.
Further, another city charter amendment up for consideration would increase the time the city secretary has to review signature petitions from 10 days to 25 days, if approved. Additionally, another amendment to the city charter would remove language requiring public service corporations to file annual reports.
All of San Antonio’s propositions are bond approvals for various city projects and improvements. Voters may choose to approve or oppose bonds for flood control and drainage projects, libraries and cultural facilities, projects for streets, bridges and sidewalks, and projects for public safety facilities.
San Antonio voters will weigh six bond issues totaling $928.085 million in proposed fundings, including $471.6 million for transportation infrastructure, according to the Bexar County elections website.
Austin voters have only one proposition to consider on prohibiting police officers from issuing citations or making arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses as well as banning the use of no-knock warrants. The proposition also stipulates that no city funds may be used to conduct testing of any cannabis-related substance to determine whether it meets the legal definition of marijuana under state law except in the limited circumstances of a police investigation.
The penalty for misdemeanor marijuana possession of two ounces or less is up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, according to state law.
The proposition has garnered support from state advocacy organizations like Ground Game Texas, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and the Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Nationwide survey data collected by CBS News and YouGov.com found two-thirds of respondents supported legalizing marijuana and cannabis products under federal and state law.
Registered and eligible Texas voters can find more information about the propositions and polling locations on the secretary of state’s website or at VoteTexas.gov.
Reece can be reached at [email protected]