Tomorrow, November 5th, we have an opportunity to resist, to support, to advocate, to change, and to participate in choosing our future. Voting is a privilege first granted to only land-owning white men in 1776, followed by all white men in 1856. In 1870, the 15th Amendment prevented states and the federal government from denying voting rights on the basis of race, but citizenship was not equitably attainable for all races. Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1890; it took the rest of the country a full 30 years to catch up. While Native Americans were given full citizenship in 1924 (I feel like there's a lesson in irony in that clause...), many were still kept from voting in their states. Asian Americans got the right to become citizens and vote in 1952, residents of Wasington, DC got the right to vote for the president, but not congressional representation, in 1961, and the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971 in response to the fact that 18-year-olds were deemed old enough to fight in Vietnam but not to vote (Panetta & Reaney, 2019). Many have worked, sacrificed, and fought over centuries so we can cast our ballots. I hope you will get in line with me tomorrow to let your voice be heard.
Proposition 1: The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time. Yes: Supports the amendment to allow persons to hold more than one office either as an elected or appointed municipal judge in more than one municipality at the same time. No: Opposes this amendment, which allows a person to hold more than one office if appointed, but not if elected.
Proposition 2: Allows the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in bonds. Yes: Supports this amendment to allow the TWD to issue bonds not to exceed $200 million for water supply and sewer service in areas defined as economically distressed. No: Opposes this amendment; therefore, discontinuing bond funding.
Proposition 3: Authorizes temporary property tax exemption for disaster areas. Yes: Supports this amendment to allow political subdivisions to provide temporary property tax exemptions in areas that are declared as natural disasters declared by the governor. No: Opposes this amendment, which would allow property reappraisals following a disaster, but not tax exemptions.
Proposition 4: Prohibits the state from levying an income tax on individuals. Yes: Supports this amendment to prohibit the state from levying an income tax. No: Opposes this amendment, which would allow the state to enact a tax on individuals in the future through a statewide referendum.
Proposition 5: Dedicates revenue from the sales tax on sporting goods to parks, wildlife, and historical agencies. Yes: Supports this amendment to dedicate revenue from sales tax on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. No: Opposes this amendment, which will continue to allow the legislature to decide how much of the revenue is allocated to these two departments.
Proposition 6: Authorizes the legislature to increase bonds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute. Yes: Supports this amendment to allow the legislature to increase the maximum amount of bonds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas from $3 billion to $6 billion. No: Opposes this amendment, keeping the max amount of bonds at $3 billion.
Proposition 7: Increases distributions to the state school fund. Yes: supports this amendment to allow the General Land Office and State Board of Education to each transfer $600 million from the Permanent School Fund's lands and properties proceeds to the Available School Fund each year. No: opposes this amendment, keeping the amount of revenue permitted to transfer at $300 million per year and excludes the State Board of Education from making transfers from the fund's lands and properties proceeds.
Proposition 8: Creates a Flood Infrastructure Fund Yes: Supports this constitutional amendment to create the Flood Infrastructure Fund, which would be used to provide financing for flood drainage, mitigation, and control projects. No: Opposes the creation of the fund.
Proposition 9: Authorizes property tax exemption for precious metals held in depositories. Yes: Supports this amendment to allow the legislature to exempt precious metals held in depositories from property taxation. No: Opposes this amendment, which allows the continuation to permit taxation of precious metals held in a depositories as property.
Proposition 10: Allows for transfer of law enforcement animals to handlers or others if in animal's best interest. Yes: Supports this amendment allowing the transfer of a law enforcement animal, to the animal's handler or another qualified caretaker if it's in the animal's best interest. No: Opposes this transfer to take place.
As a supporter of our state parks and public lands, Prop 5 is an issue close to my heart. The Texas Coalition for State Parks has provided the following statement:
Texas has an incredible system of state parks and historic sites that help preserve our heritage and provide important recreational and educational opportunities for Texas families. But our parks and historic sites are overflowing and stretched to the limit as Texans seek out outdoor opportunities in a state that is 95% privately owned. State Park visitation alone is nearing 10 million visitors annually. All of those visitors coupled with chronic underfunding has placed a strain on an aging system with outdated infrastructure. If we are to meet growing demand and ensure future generations can enjoy these sites and the great outdoors, the system needs a dedicated stream of funding. This fall, Texans have an opportunity to do just that. On November 5, 2019 Texans will head to the polls for a Constitutional Amendment Election. Proposition 5 or “Prop. 5” is one of 10 measures on which Texans will be asked to vote. Prop. 5 will dedicate revenue from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax, so those dollars can only be used by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites, and not for any other purposes. Importantly, Prop. 5 requires no new taxes or fees. A YES vote on Prop. 5 on Nov. 5 will protect Texas’ natural areas and historic sites, so we don’t lose the very things that make Texas a special place in which to live.
Which of these issues are important to you? We all have different views, beliefs, and priorities, but I hope we can all stand together tomorrow as participants in the privilege of voting. Your voice matters! Let it be heard!