Amendments vote covers nursing homes, churches
Last updated 10/19/2021 at 6:58pm
Texans have a chance to have their say on a couple of emotional issues for many that were created by government intervention to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The eight propositions to be voted up or down in the Nov. 2 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election include one (No. 3) that will, if passed, keep the state or any lesser political entities – counties or cities – from limiting or prohibiting religious services.
Another proposition (No. 6) establishes a right for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to name an essential caregiver who cannot be denied in-person visitation rights.
Two other proposals will stiffen regulations on who can run for the state's highest elected judges, from district judges on up, while another pair will increase ad valorem tax exemptions for some widowed spouses.
Early voting began Monday in the biennial election and will continue through Friday, Oct. 29.
Orange Public Library, 220 N. 5th Street; Orange County Expo Center, 11475-B FM 1442; Orange County Airport, 2640 S. Hwy 87; and Raymond Gould Community Center, 385 Claiborne in Vidor will again serve as early voting centers with any registered Orange County voter allowed to vote at any one of the four sites.
Early voting polls are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Tuesday, Oct. 26, when they are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The "odd year" Constitutional elections traditionally draw the smaller turnout of voters with no elected offices included and little advertising.
Four years ago, only 1,659 of Orange County's 50,000-plus registered voters showed up at the polls. In 2019, that number surged to 6,090.
Yet that was a far and pathetic cry from the record 36,079 Orange County voters that turned out for the 2020 Presidential election.
When COVID-19 became a national crisis in the spring of 2020, world and national health centers and President Donald Trump's COVID Task Force called for social distancing.
That led to schools, businesses and public gathering places, including restaurants, bars and places of worship, being required by state, county and city leaders to shutter in an attempt to halt the spread.
What was expected by many to be a few weeks of imposition turned into months of isolation for many and a year or more from families visiting elderly loved ones.
Proposition 1 will allow professional rodeos organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women's Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charity raffles at their venues.
While unauthorized raffles are considered illegal gambling, state law since 2015 allows charity raffles at professional games (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc.) that have raised money for education, health research and youth activities.
Proposition 2 would allow counties to issue bonds to finance transportation or infrastructure projects. Cities and towns already have this power.
Proposition 4 will require anyone seeking election to the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals or a Texas Court of Appeals to have 10 years' experience practicing law in Texas. Candidates for District Judge would need eight years of judicial experience in a Texas Court, up from the current requirement of four years.
Proposition 5 provides the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to have oversight on candidates running for judicial office by accepting complaints and conducting investigations. The Commission already has this duty for current judicial officeholders.
Proposition 7 would install a limit on school district taxes for a surviving spouse of a disabled homeowner who was 65 or over at death.
Texas changed its tax code in 2019 to allow this, but needs the Constitutional amendment to make it happen. A yes vote would trigger tax refunds to eligible spouses for 2020 and 2021.
Proposition 8 would expand eligibility for residential homestead tax exemptions granted spouses of military members killed in the line of duty.
Currently, spouses of military members killed in hostile action get this benefit. The change would include all spouses of military members killed in the line of duty, whether it's by hostile action or non-combat accidents.