Early Voting Shows Texans in Favor of All 7 Constitutional Amendments

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Michael Stravato for the Texas Tribune

People vote in Houston on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

All seven constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot were on their way to approval by Texas voters, according to results released Tuesday evening by the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Two amendments would create new property tax exemptions and one will allow professional sports teams to hold charitable raffles. One measure – Proposition 6 – which would give property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty – got an approving nod from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He said the proposition was one of his legislative priorities for the 2017 regular session.

“I voted for all the Constitutional amendments on the ballot and I am especially proud to vote for Proposition 6,” Patrick wrote in a news release. “Voting is one of our greatest freedoms. It always feels great to cast a ballot.”

Another measure that looked to be headed toward approval Tuesday evening, Proposition 2, would ease restrictions on borrowing against home equity in Texas and allow Texans easier access to their equity. The proposition also would lower the maximum fees that can be charged in connection with home equity loans and would exempt certain charges from the calculation of that maximum.

In late October, Progress Texas – a left-leaning organization focused on issues such as LGBTQ equality and abortion access – encouraged Texans to vote against the initiative, asserting the measure could “raise costs for borrowers by not including the cost of appraisals, property surveys, title insurance, and title examination reports in the cap on fees.”

“Borrowers also stand to lose important consumer protections if they refinance a home equity loan into a non-home equity loan,” the organization wrote.

Another hot-button measure on the ballot, Proposition 1, authorizes property tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses – those whose homes were donated to them by charity for less than market value.

Turnout in constitutional amendment elections is historically low. In 2013, only 1.1 million voted. In 2011, only 690,052 Texans showed up – of the 12.8 million who were registered to vote at the time – to vote on 10 amendments.

Any changes to the Texas Constitution must be approved by a majority of Texas voters. Getting a proposed amendment on the ballot requires support from more than two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature.

 

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