Proposition 15 would allow the state to start more highways in less time.
October 8, 2001
JOHN MORITZ, Austin Bureau
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Copyright 2001
Texas voters are being asked to decide whether the state can go into debt to build highways and buy video cameras for squad cars to combat racial profiling.
The two items are among 19 ballot initiatives that will be placed before voters Nov. 6 as proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. As in most state constitutional amendment elections over the years, there is little now to inflame voter passions, but plenty that could affect Texans' lives for decades.
Early voting for the election begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2. The deadline to register to vote for the election is Tuesday.
The proposal to allow the state to sell bonds to finance highway construction, Proposition 15 , would end Texas' long-standing policy of "pay as you go" when it comes to addressing statewide transportation needs.
If approved, Proposition 15 would establish the Texas Mobility Fund and allow the state to start more highway projects in less time. The fund could be used to build highways, turnpikes, toll roads and bridges and to acquire land needed for the construction.
One of the most expensive ballot items is Proposition 8, which would allow the state to issue $850 million in bonds for construction and repair projects for numerous state agencies. The prison system alone would receive $300 million to upgrade facilities, especially the 13 prison units that are more than 60 years old and sorely in need of repair, officials said.
"I think every homeowner can identify with this maintenance," said Gary Johnson, the prison system's executive director. "It's just like at home when a 20-year-old roof starts leaking. You can either repair it or replace it, or you will have more damage than just the roof."
Also included in Proposition 8 is $18.5 million to be used as grants to local law enforcement agencies to purchase video equipment to monitor traffic stops to help identify whether officers are engaging in racial profiling.
Proposition 7 would allow the Veterans Land Board to issue $500 million in bonds for home loans to veterans and to expand the state's veterans cemetery system.
The Texas Constitution, ratified more than a century ago, is a cumbersome document of about 65,000 words and 390 amendments. By contrast, the U.S. Constitution is almost 100 years older but contains only about 7,000 words and 27 amendments.
State amendment elections are held in odd-numbered years based on propositions approved earlier in those years by the Legislature.
It has become a staple of constitutional amendment elections to include a provision to eliminate a slew of existing amendments that have become unnecessary or obsolete.
This year's group is in Proposition 12, which includes a provision to delete references to the state's "Lunatic, Blind, Deaf and Dumb, and Orphans Asylums." Though the state continues to operate facilities for people with certain disabilities, their names have been modified over the years with language more suitable to the times.
Some of the proposals have purely local interests, such as Proposition 1, which would allow the state to give up tracts of land in Bastrop County, and Proposition 3, which would provide tax exemptions for raw cocoa and green coffee held in Harris County.
Proposition 2 would allow the state to use bond money to build roads in underdeveloped colonias along the Texas-Mexico border.
List of proposed amendments
Here is a complete list of the proposed amendments and the wording that will appear on the official ballot:
*Proposition 1: The constitutional amendment providing for clearing of land titles by the release of a state claim of its interest to the owners of certain land in Bastrop County.
*Proposition 2: The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of state general obligation bonds and notes to provide financial assistance to counties for roadway projects to serve border colonias.
*Proposition 3: The constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation raw cocoa and green coffee that are held in Harris County.
*Proposition 4: The constitutional amendment providing for a four-year term of office for the firefighters' pension commissioner.
*Proposition 5: The constitutional amendment authorizing municipalities to donate outdated or surplus fire fighting equipment or supplies to underdeveloped countries.
*Proposition 6: The constitutional amendment requiring the governor to call a special session for the appointment of presidential electors under certain circumstances.
*Proposition 7: The constitutional amendment authorizing the Veterans Land Board to issue up to $500 million in general obligation bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for veterans' housing assistance and to use assets in certain veterans' land and veterans' housing assistance funds to provide for veterans cemeteries.
*Proposition 8: The constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of up to $850 million in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for construction and repair projects and for the purchase of needed equipment.
*Proposition 9: The constitutional amendment authorizing the filling of a vacancy in the Legislature without an election if a candidate is running unopposed in an election to fill the vacancy.
*Proposition 10: The constitutional amendment to promote equal tax treatment for products produced, acquired and distributed in the state of Texas by authorizing the Legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation tangible personal property held at certain locations only temporarily for assembling, manufacturing, processing, or other commercial purposes.
*Proposition 11: The constitutional amendment to allow current and retired public school teachers and retired public school administrators to receive compensation for serving on the governing bodies of school districts, cities, towns, or other local government districts.
*Proposition 12: The constitutional amendment to eliminate obsolete, archaic, redundant and unnecessary provisions and to clarify, update and harmonize certain provisions of the Texas Constitution.
*Proposition 13: The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to authorize the board of trustees of an independent school district to donate certain surplus district property of historical significance in order to preserve the property.
*Proposition 14: The constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to authorize taxing units other than school districts to exempt from ad valorem taxation travel trailers that are not held or used for the production of income.
*Proposition 15 : The constitutional amendment creating the Texas Mobility Fund and authorizing grants and loans of money and issuance of obligations for financing the construction, reconstruction, acquisition, operation and expansion of state highways, turnpikes, toll roads, toll bridges and other mobility projects.
*Proposition 16: The constitutional amendment prescribing requirements for imposing a lien for work and material used in the construction, repair or renovation of improvements on residential homestead property and including the conversion and refinance of a personal property lien secured by a manufactured home to a lien on real property as a debt on homestead property protected from a forced sale.
*Proposition 17: The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to settle land title disputes between the state and a private party.
*Proposition 18: The constitutional amendment to promote uniformity in the collection, deposit, reporting, and remitting of civil and criminal fees.
*Proposition 19: The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $ 2billion.
John Moritz, (512) 476-4294 firstname.lastname@example.org
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