We Recommend a ‘yes' Vote on Statewide Propositions 1, 2 and 3

Texas voters, here's your chance to have direct input on whether bills become law this fall when seven amendments to the Texas Constitution come before you.It's your opportunity to have a say on important issues such as giving better protections to our disabled vets and how you can use the equity in your homes.Proposition 1 would allow partially disabled veterans to exempt some of their property taxes if their home was donated to them for less than market value. In 2013, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment approving property tax exemptions for disabled veterans whose homes had been donated in full. But an unintended consequence of that law was that vets who put any money toward the cost of their homes were not eligible for the exemption.This amendment fixes that.These men and women have already sacrificed so much for this country; it's wrong to place a tax burden on handicap-accessible homes that have been mostly donated — especially if the veterans are already shouldering some of the cost. No disabled veteran, or their surviving spouse, should be at risk of losing proper housing because of a big tax bill.When this measure came up in the Legislature, no one spoke in opposition. However, critics say that instead of tax breaks to specialized groups, lawmakers should focus on reducing the tax burden for everyone.In the meantime, however, charitable organizations are doing their part to help. Texans can, too.Proposition 1 deserves passage.Proposition 2 would make several changes to the state's home-equity borrowing system, including lowering the cap on fees that may be charged. When the state legalized home-equity loans in 1997, many worried that Texans would irresponsibly tap the value in their homes. Texas instituted some of the nation's toughest limits on how much a person could borrow. But those fears were misplaced. Prop 2 would loosen the restrictions, giving borrowers more flexibility. It would lower the cap on fees charged to borrowers from 3 percent to 2 percent of the principal of the loan, and revise the type of fees that count toward the cap. This keeps fees from eating up the value on relatively small equity loans. It would also allow farmers and ranchers to take out home-equity loans on agricultural property; state law currently bars most of them.One provision deserves a buyer-beware caution: Homeowners would have the option to refinance a higher-interest-rate home-equity loan into a traditional, lower-interest purchase money loan. Refinancing would eliminate some consumer protections that come with a home-equity loan, such as a court order before foreclosure. Still, homeowners should have the flexibility to pick whatever works best for them.Voters should approve it.Proposition 3 would limit the time governor appointees could serve after their terms have expired.The governor makes hundreds of volunteer appointments to state boards and commissions, generally for four- or six-year terms. Examples include the powerful board of regents at state universities, and those who oversee the state police, prison and pension systems.Under the current "holdover provision, " appointees with expired terms continue to serve until they are reappointed or replaced. While that ensures that the seats don't go vacant, it also means some appointees' terms have been unduly extended without approval.This issue came to a head last year when Empower Texans, a conservative advocacy group, called on Gov. Greg Abbott to replace four commissioners on the Texas Ethics Commission whose terms had long expired. (Chairman Thomas Harrison, for example, had been held over five years past his expiration date before he resigned.)This measure would limit the time these holdover appointees could serve to the last day of the regular legislative session after the term has expired.It would allow the state Senate time to consider and confirm nominees. And surely, we need fresh ideas from a diverse group of qualified Texans.Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle gave it overwhelming support. Texas voters should do the same.Ready to vote?This is a roundup of Dallas Morning News recommendations for the Nov. 7 elections.Early voting starts: Oct. 23 Early voting ends: Nov. 3 Election Day: Nov. 7For more information: Collin County 1-800-687-8546 co.collin.tx.us/elections Dallas County 214-819-6300 dallascountyvotes.org Denton County 940-349-3200 votedenton.com Kaufman County 972-932-0298 kaufmancounty.org/elections Tarrant County 817-831-8683 access.tarrantcounty.com/en/elections.htmlFor more help, including how to check your registration status, contact the Texas secretary of state at 1-800-252-8683 or visit votetexas.gov.What's your view?Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.  Continue reading...

Read More

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us