More about amendments
This article is a continuation of my summary of the 11 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution that will be put to the voters in the next statewide general election, which will take place on Nov. 3. Each proposed amendment must receive a simple majority from the electorate before it can take effect. You can view complete information on all eleven amendments online through the Texas Legislative Council’s website at: http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/pubsconamend/pubsconamend. html.
Amendment No. 4, Article 2 of House Joint Resolution 14 would create the national research university fund. It would allow the legislature to dedicate state money to the fund. The purpose of the fund is to distribute money to state universities to put toward activities that promote increased research capacity at the university.
The amendment seeks to remedy a perceived lag in Texas’ number of nationally recognized research universities by helping other state universities expand their research capabilities.
Supporters fear that the state is losing highly talented high school graduates to out of state doctoral programs because there simply is not enough room for them at the state’s two premier research universities, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin.
Opponents fear that given the current economic situation and the general lack of state resources, this is the time to focus mostly on those universities that are the closest to attaining tier-one status. Tier one status has no precise definition, but the label is usually associated with membership in the Association of American Universities and the attainment of federal research grants.
Amendment No. 5 requires the legislature to provide for a single appraisal in each county for all property subject to property taxes. It also allows the legislature to permit appraisals outside a county if two or more counties elect to consolidate appraisal services. It also requires the legislature to provide for an appraisal review board for each appraisal district. Two or more adjoining appraisal entities would be permitted to consolidate review services if they choose to do so.
This amendment is expected to benefit rural counties that have difficulty finding enough qualified individuals wanting to serve on local appraisal review boards. The consolidation is permissive rather than mandatory so each county will be able to decide what course of action best accommodates their specific needs.
Opponents say the amendment does not go far enough in addressing consolidation issues. They say that if it would be beneficial to consolidate review services, it should be beneficial to accommodate appraisal services as well and the Legislature should encourage both in tandem.
Amendment No. 6, the Veterans’ Right’s Amendment, would allow the Veterans’ Land Board to issue general obligation bonds to sell land to Texas veterans or provide them with home or land mortgages. It would remove the current $500 million cap on the amount of these bonds that may be outstanding at any one time. It would instead cap the amount of outstanding bonds provided at the amount of state bonds previously authorized. The more bonds that are retired, the more can be issued.
The Veterans Land Board was created in 1946, and through the Veterans’ Land Program, was directed to buy land for re-sale to Texas veterans. Its bonding authority has been increased throughout the years, and in 1983, the Veterans’ Housing Assistance Program was created. Through that program, the Board made mortgage loans to veterans similar to those of conventional lending institutions.
Proponents say this amendment is necessary to ensure continued proper funding and maintenance of the Veterans’ Housing Assistance Program and Veterans’ Land Program. No opposition to this amendment was made during committee hearings in either chamber of the legislature. Nor was any made during consideration by the full House and Senate.
In upcoming articles I will continue to summarize the constitutional amendments that will appear on the next statewide ballot. If you would like further information on any of these amendments, call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0672, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.