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Texas Voters to Decide on Constitutional Amendments for Police Dogs, State Parks and More

Our most recent blog written by our firm president detailed how Texans are waiting for Governor Abbott to sign bills on his desk that passed during the recent 86th Legislative Session. There is plenty of change hinging on the Governor’s signature, however, some legislation will require more than the Governor’s signature and will also require the public to vote. Constitutional amendments require the support of two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate, and a majority of voters to come out and vote. They do not require the governor’s signature to appear on the ballot.

Constitutional amendment elections take place in Texas in odd-numbered years and will be the only items voters consider on the statewide ballot. This year being an odd year, there are 10 amendments that will be on the ballot for voter consideration in November 2019.

Since 1876, 217 new sections have been added to the Texas Constitution, while 66 of the original sections and 51 of the added sections have been removed. Today, the Texas Constitution has 389 sections, which I assume most Texans know. Not being from Texas, it came as a bit of a surprise when I learned school children are required to spend an entire year in middle school in a Texas history class.

For those of you (like me) that attended middle school elsewhere, the Texas Legislative Council has published a document with every Constitutional amendment; current through the last election in 2017. If you are really interested, the original version of the Texas 1876 Constitution is viewable online on The University of Texas School of Law Tarlton Law Library website.

In November 2017, roughly 860,000 Texans voted for the 7 constitutional amendments on the ballot that year. That should get your attention. According to U.S. Census numbers, there are about 29,000,000 people living in Texas, yet only 3% of the population voted. Admittedly, the registered voter pool is a smaller number say, 15 million, however, not even a million voters showed up at the polls in November 2017.

This November, the 10 proposed Texas Constitutional amendments cover a broad range of issues such as; a ban on Texas state income tax, relief for property owners suffering due to natural disasters, permitting one person to serve as a municipal judge in more than one jurisdiction, cancer research and institute bonds, appropriations by bond sales for schools, Texas Water Development Board bonds to create more water, tax exemption for precious metals held in the Texas Bullion Depository, allowing all revenue from sporting goods sales tax to go to the operation of state parks, and last but not least; an amendment that should have absolutely no opposition from the public. Senate Joint Resolution 32 is a proposed amendment that would allow police dogs and other law enforcement animals retire in their old age to live with their handler or other caretaker.

The state constitution currently prevents law enforcement agencies from transferring valuable property to a private person or organization for free. Police dogs are far more than “valuable property”; they are devoted, fierce, tenacious law enforcement officers.

What better reason to get out and vote on November 5th but to amend our state Constitution to provide for man’s dedicated, hard-working best friend to retire with their human? I can’t think of a single one.

Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. Information about our municipal law practice can be found here.

Our previous blog, “Texas Legislature Tightens State Reins over Local Control,” can be found here.

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