Athens Review, Athens, Texas

October 11, 2013

Texans to decide issues

Constitutional amendments due for November vote

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — With the beginning of early balloting just over a week away, it’s time to take a look at the slate of proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot in Texas.

Among the amendments are proposals that both Democrats and Republicans can support. State Sen. Robert Nichols, a Republican, said in Athens Thursday that there must be overwhelming legislative support for an amendment before it gets on the ballot.

“It has a real high bar it has to reach before it even gets there,” Nichols said. “You cannot get two-thirds of both houses without it being a bipartisan bill. Keep that in mind when you go to look at it.”

Nichols favors Proposition 6, written to help entities fund projects that create new water sources. Proposition 6 establishes two funds to finance such projects.

According to the League of Women Voters, the two funds would receive financial resources for water projects, including revenue authorized by the state legislature, investment earnings and interest and proceeds from the sale of bonds. The two funds would be inside the state treasury, but outside the general revenue fund, a constitutional requirement to give the legislature control over disbursements.

“We are very blessed here in East Texas with our water,” Nichols said. “We’ve got rain, we’ve got rivers, we’ve got aquifers. We’ve got the water and everybody else wants it. If we don’t help them solve their problem, they’re going to come after ours.”

Henderson County Democratic Chairman Marsha Head believes Proposition 6 has bi-partisan support. She also thinks voters should approve two propositions that are designed to help widows of servicemen who were killed in action.

Proposition 1 would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. Armed Services who was killed in action to be exempt from paying local property taxes, based on all or part of the total appraised value of the homestead.

Proposition 4 would provide a similar exemption to a partially-disabled veteran or surviving spouse, if the homestead has been donated by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran.

Head said another reason to go to the polls in the Nov.  5 election is to be sure you have the proper identification to qualify under the new voter ID law. She gave an example of a situation that could cause some confusion on election day.

“Women with their maiden name as their middle name – it’s up to the judgment of the judge,” Head said.

A woman whose name has been changed due to marriage could also encounter a problem, Head said.

Early balloting begins Oct. 21.