Editorials

Amendments that don’t make the earth move

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

A sign offers directions to a voting location.
A sign offers directions to a voting location. Star-Telegram

Texans often yawn when they’re asked to vote on changes to their state constitution.

Those elections come around every couple of years, after each legislative session. And some of the proposals are awfully limited in scope.

Safe to say, for example, that few North Texans were inspired to vote on the 2013 proposition repealing authorization for a hospital district in Hidalgo County.

Statewide turnout in that election, which also included seven other propositions, was just 8.6 percent of registered voters. Turnout in the 2014 general election, with a race for governor and many other offices on the ballot, was 33.7 percent of registered voters.

True to form, the constitutional amendment election coming up Nov. 3 (early voting starts Monday) has some real yawners among its seven propositions.

Still, each proposal has its interesting elements.

Proposition 2

This amendment extends the property tax exemption for spouses of deceased veterans who were 100 percent disabled.

Texans approved a similar exemption in 2011, but that one applied only to spouses of veterans who died on or after Jan. 1, 2010. The current proposal removes the date restriction.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting for Proposition 2.

Proposition 3

For more than 140 years, the Texas Constitution has required the governor and other officials who are elected statewide to move to Austin when they take office.

Some people say modern transportation and communication systems make that no longer necessary, that these officials can do their jobs from anywhere and can get to Austin promptly when necessary.

We don’t buy it. Statewide officials should be in their offices daily, available for face-to-face meetings with their staff and other state leaders.

If anything, they could be allowed to live within a short distance from Austin, a nod to the city’s escalating real estate costs.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting against Proposition 3.

Proposition 5

This year’s most obscure amendment would authorize 20 Texas counties with populations between 5,000 and 7,500 to build and maintain private roads for a reasonable charge.

Counties with populations of 5,000 or less have been allowed to work on private roads since 1980. This amendment is an update, the argument being that small rural counties rarely have private contractors for this kind of work.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting for Proposition 5.

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