By Kris Smith
During the course of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session and the Special Sessions, the Texas Legislature have voted to put a total of 14 resolutions – after passing the Texas House and the Texas Senate – propositional amendments to be listed on the Texas ballots in November.
History of the amendments to the Texas Constitution
According to the state constitution, adopted in 1876, the Texas legislature, by a two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, may propose amendments revising the constitution must be submitted for an election by qualified voters of the state.
A proposed amendment becomes adopted by the constitution only by a majority vote and will become effective after an official canvass is completed. According to Texas law, the canvass date is not earlier than the 15th or later than the 30th day after election day.
Since the initial adoption of the Texas Constitution in 1876, 700 amendments have been proposed, with 697 sent to the voters of Texas.
In this article, we will explain the background summary of each proposition on the November 7th ballot –
PROPOSITION 1 – (H.J.R. 126, 88th Leg., R.S.) – Authored by Rep. Burns and sponsored by Sen. Perry
The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.
The proposed constitutional amendment creates a new right for people to engage in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management practices on land they own or lease. The proposed amendment does not affect the legislature’s authority to authorize state or local regulation of those agricultural practices when necessary to protect health and safety, animal health and crop production, or natural resources, or to use the power of eminent domain.
PROPOSITION 2 – (S.J.R. 64, 88th Leg., R.S.) – Authored by: Sen. West and Sponsored by: Rep. Talarico
The constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.
S.J.R. 64, passed during the 88th regular session of the Texas Legislature, proposes to add Section 1-r to Article VIII, Texas Constitution, to authorize the governing body of a county or municipality to exempt from ad valorem taxation all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility. The resolution authorizes the governing body of the county or municipality to adopt the exemption as a percentage of the appraised value of the property, provided that the percentage adopted by the governing body is not less than 50 percent.
PROPOSITION 3 – (H.J.R. 132, 88th Leg., R.S.) – Authored by: Rep. Hefner et al. and sponsored by: Sen. Hughes
The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual wealth or net worth tax, including a tax on the difference between the assets and liabilities of an individual or family.
PROPOSITION 4 – H.J.R. 2, Authored By: Rep. Metcalf et. al. and sponsored by Sen. Bettencourt
The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to establish a temporary limit on the maximum appraised value of real property other than a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes; to increase the amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation by a school district applicable to residence homesteads from $40,000 to $100,000; to adjust the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes imposed on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect increases in certain exemption amounts; to except certain appropriations to pay for ad valorem tax relief from the constitutional limitation on the rate of growth of appropriations; and to authorize the legislature to provide for a four-year term of office for a member of the board of directors of certain appraisal districts.
PROPOSITION 5 – (H.J.R. 3, 88th Leg. R.S.) Authored by: Rep. Bonnen and sponsored by Sen. Huffman
The constitutional amendment relating to the Texas University Fund, which provides funding to certain institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities and drive the state economy.
H.J.R. 3, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution to rename the national research university fund, which is used to support emerging research universities in Texas, as the Texas University Fund.
PROPOSITION 6 – (S.J.R. 75, 88th Leg. R.S.) – Authored by: Sen. Perry and sponsored by Rep. King, Tracy O. (Dist. 80 Laredo)
The constitutional amendment creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state. S.J.R. 75 proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution to create the Texas water fund as a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund to be administered by the Texas Water Development Board or that board’s successor in function. The resolution authorizes the administrator of the fund to use the fund only to transfer money to other funds or accounts administered by the board or its successor in function. The resolution also provides that money transferred from the fund to another fund or account may be spent as provided by general law or may be restored to the Texas water fund without further appropriation. The resolution provides that not less than 25 percent of the initial appropriation to the fund must be used for transfer to the New Water Supply for Texas Fund. The resolution authorizes the expenses of managing the investments of the Texas water fund to be paid from that fund. Finally, the resolution provides that an appropriation of state tax revenues for the purpose of depositing money to the credit of the fund does not count against the constitutional limit on the rate of growth of appropriations, which has the effect of excluding the appropriation from the state spending limit.
PROPOSITION 7 – (S.J.R. 93 – 88th Leg. R.S.) – Authored by: Sen. Schwertner and sponsored by Rep. Hunter
S.J.R. 93, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, proposes the addition of Section 49-q to Article III, Texas Constitution, to provide for the creation of the Texas energy fund to support the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of electric generating facilities. If this amendment is approved by the voters, the legislature will provide initial funding of $5 billion and enact enabling legislation to begin providing loans and grants from the fund.
The proposed amendment would require the Public Utility Commission of Texas to allocate money from the fund for loans and grants for electric generating facilities that serve as backup power sources and for projects in each region of the state that is part of an electric power grid in proportion to that region’s load share.
PROPOSITION 8 – (H.J.R.125 – 88th Leg. R.S.) Authored by: Rep. Ashby and Sponsored by Sen. Huffman
The constitutional amendment creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects. If voter approved, the proposed amendment takes effect January 1, 2024, and expires on September 1, 2035, unless extended for 10 years by a concurrent resolution approved by a record vote of two-thirds of the members of each house of the legislature. The legislature has appropriated $1.5 billion to the proposed fund contingent on voter approval of the proposed amendment.
PROPOSITION 9 – (H.J.R. 2 88th Leg. R.S.) – Authored by: Rep. Bonne, et.al and sponsored by: Sen. Huffman
The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. H.J.R. 2, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, proposes a temporary amendment to the Texas Constitution that authorizes the current 88th Legislature to (1) provide by general law a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and (2) appropriate state money to pay for the adjustment. The legislature has appropriated $3.355 billion to fund the cost-of-living adjustment contingent on voter approval of the proposed amendment.
PROPOSITION 10 – (S.J.R. 87, 88th Leg. R.S.) Authored by: Sen. Huffman and sponsored by Rep. Bonnen
The constitutional amendment authorizes the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation equipment or inventory held by a manufacturer of medical or biomedical products to protect the Texas healthcare network and strengthen our medical supply chain. PROPOSITION 11 – (S.J.R. 32, 88th Leg. R.S.) – Authored by: Sen. Blanco and sponsored by Rep. Moody
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.
PROPOSITION 12 – (H.J.R. 134, 88th Leg., R.S.) Authored by: Rep. Bonnen et. Al, and sponsored by: Sen. Middleton
The constitutional amendment providing for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County. The constitutional amendment proposing to add Section 44(d), Article XVI, Texas Constitution, if approved by the voters, would abolish the office of county treasurer in Galveston County and authorize the commissioners court of that county to employ or contract with a qualified person, or designate a county officer, to perform any of the functions that would have been performed by the county treasurer if the office had not been abolished. The amendment also provides that the amendment takes effect only if, in addition to approval by voters across the state, a majority of the voters in Galveston County voting on the question also approve the amendment.
PROPOSITION 13 – H.J. R. 107, 88th Leg. R. S.) Authored by: Rep. Price et al. and sponsored by: Sen. Hinojosa
The constitutional amendment to increase the mandatory age of retirement for state justices and judges. The proposed amendment amends Section 1-a(1), Article V, Texas Constitution, to increase the mandatory age of retirement of state justices and judges from 75 to 79 years unless the legislature sets a lower mandatory retirement age. The proposed amendment also increases the lowest age the legislature may prescribe from 70 to 75 years of age.
PROPOSITION 14 – (S.J.R. 74, 88th Leg., R.S.) Authored by: Sen. Parker and sponsored by: Rep. Walle et al.
The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used for the creation and improvement of state parks. The Texas state parks system has traditionally been funded by a combination of user fees, such as park entrance fees, and legislative appropriations. In 2019, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment to add Section 7-d to Article VIII, Texas Constitution, dedicating a portion of the state sales taxes on sporting goods to provide a revenue stream to the Parks and Wildlife Department. The constitutional amendment proposed by S.J.R. 74, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, adding Section 49-e-1, Article III, Texas Constitution, would create the centennial parks conservation fund to provide an additional dedicated funding source for Texas’ state parks. The proposed fund, named in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the state park system, would be created as a trust fund outside the treasury and would authorize the use of the fund only for the creation and improvement of state parks, in accordance with general law, and to pay the reasonable expenses of managing the fund and its assets. The fund would consist of: (1) money appropriated, credited, or transferred to the fund by the legislature; (2) gifts, grants, and donations received by the Parks and Wildlife Department or the department’s successor in function for a purpose for which money in the fund may be used under the constitutional provision; and (3) investment earnings and interest earned on amounts credited to the fund.