One of the ways I enjoy giving back to the community is by serving as legal correspondent for “Positively Houston,” a not for profit news program focusing on stories of interest to the Houston, Texas area. I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Jon Taylor, chair of the Department of Political Science at St. Thomas University about some proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution coming up on the November 5th ballot.
We primarily focus on the two most controversial amendments: Propositions five and six. Proposition five would expand the ability of Texans over the age of 62 to use a reverse mortgage to purchase a homestead property. While the proposition would include a requirement for counseling, opponents are concerned that this opens the door to unscrupulous lenders to take advantage of senior Texans. In a state with strong historic roots in preserving homestead rights, this proposed change to the constitution has generated significant controversy.
Proposition six allows for the establishment of special and specific funds used to address water management issues in the state. While we are all aware that ongoing drought conditions are wrecking havoc on the existing water management infrastructure, this proposition allocates funds out of the Texas “Rainy Day Fund” for initial capitalization. The appropriation of these funds out of the Rainy Day fund has many fiscal conservatives furious. The measure has generated so much controversy that the Texas Legislature, although empowered to do so, did not pass the legislation required to establish these funds in its session. Instead, it has been said that the “kicked the can” down to the voters, to let them dig into the Rainy Day fund for these projects.
Even in “off year” elections, there are important issues and measures that we, the citizens of Texas, get to decide. If you are looking for more information about the proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, I would suggest starting with the Texas Legislature’s House Research Organization “Focus Report” for more information. I hope that all of us read, research, ask questions and – most importantly – VOTE this upcoming November 5th.