On Tuesday, it was Election Day in Texas, and voters all across the state headed to the polls to vote for eight proposed constitutional amendments that were passed as bills during this year’s legislative sessions but required voter approval.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to these amendments that include extending property tax exemptions for military families, changes to eligibility requirements for judges, and a measure that allows nursing homes to have a designated visitor (even during pandemic-related shutdowns).
All the proposed amendments were approved, even though voter turnout this year was lower than the last constitutional amendment election in 2019, with only about nine percent of registered Texas voters casting a ballot, according to the Texas Tribune.
Let’s get to know Texas’ new constitutional amendments.
Proposition 1, allows the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to hold charity raffles at events, which nowadays is considered illegal gambling if it is not authorized.
Proposition 2, allows counties to issue bonds to fund transportation or infrastructure projects in underdeveloped areas, something that cities are already allowed to issue.
Proposition 3, which was passed with 63% approval, was drafted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and bans governments from taking any action that “prohibits or limits religious services” of religious organizations, even during disasters like the pandemic where churches were shut down to prevent the virus from spreading. According to the Chron, critics of Prop 3 said it could potentially have serious future consequences for public health responses since it bars the state from taking steps to mitigate disease spread.
Proposition 4 and 5 both passed with 59% voter support. Prop 4 changes the eligibility requirements to serve as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and intermediate appeals courts. While Prop 5 allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to accept complaints, conduct investigations, and take other action against judicial candidates.
Proposition 6, which had 88% votes in favor, was also created as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, it allows residents of nursing homes to designate an “essential caregiver” who could not be prohibited from in-person visits. Many nursing home residents endured extended periods of isolation and as of August, 9,095 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Texas Tribune.
Proposition 7 and 8 had 87% approval, and both focus on taxes. Prop 7 limits school property taxes incurred by a surviving spouse of a person with disabilities who is older than 65 and has died, as long as the surviving spouse is at least 55 years old. Prop 8 expands eligibility for residential homestead property tax exemptions for military families.