Texas Constitutional Election November 8, 2011 Voter’s Guide (with Travis County & Pflugerville)

Yes kiddies, it’s election time again. Once again I am putting my notes online in the hopes some of you will agree with me and vote my way. Once again I anticipate the voters in Austin will vote themselves tax hikes for no good reason. We’ll see. This time we have TEN amendments to the basic law of Texas (the Constitution) because the legislators don’t think they can get away with this stuff on their own, but maybe if they ask you . . .

The ballots are written so you are either FOR a measure or AGAINST it.

Proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments:

PROP. 1, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote FOR Proposition 1
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.

This is a question?

Dear Mrs. Widowofaveteran,

We are ever so sorry to hear about the loss of your recently deceased fully-disabled-veteran husband. Enclosed you will find a tax bill for $6,000 which you will have to pay every year from now on because he died.

Sucks to be you, eh?

Love,

Texas

PROP. 2, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 2!
The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.

Because we don’t owe enough money already, and your taxes for stuff you already have is too low? How about, stop spending so much on stuff we shouldn’t be doing as a State anyhow, and then use the savings to pay for the projects they want to fund through the water development board.

PROP. 3, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 3 (and not just no!)
The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.

You know why college is so expensive? Because the students can all get loans to pay for it. If everyone can get the money, then the supply of money is unlimited, and the cost skyrockets precisely because everyone can pay. They can already get loans from friends, family, pell grants, and other public and private student loan granting or guaranteeing bodies. This is one more thing Texas doesn’t need to spend money doing, AND it will further increase the cost of higher education!

PROP. 4, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 4
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.

Non-lawyer speak: we want to allow counties to declare your old house on a prime piece of land to be blighted, then they can issue bonds to develop it to get more property tax revenues . . . AND jack up EVERYONE’s taxes to pay back the bonds!

PROP. 5, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 5
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.

They want to make it easier for cities and counties to incur long-term debt, in the middle of an economic crisis caused by excessive long-term debt. Hello?

PROP. 6, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 6
The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.

Unless someone can convince me otherwise, this sounds like a feel-good “Do Something” measure. I am almost ambivalent on this topic, but then I remember that the men of two hundred years ago were generally intellectually superior to modern government-school educated professional politicians, and I say “stick with the old way.”

PROP. 7, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 7
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.

Why, exactly, is the State and/or El Paso County in the business of developing recreational facilities? Especially why now, when one of the things crushing our economy is too much tax money being taken for too many non-government-related expenditures?

PROP. 8, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 8
The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.

They want to tax you based on what your land COULD do. IF you can’t afford the higher taxes, you might have to lose your land. Then someone else will develop your land and pay the higher taxes. It doesn’t matter that your father sweated for 60 years on your land. This sort of proposition is evil. It is couched in terms of “just another option for the landowner” . . . yeah, right.

PROP. 9, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 9
The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.

To clarify: somebody does something StrongBad enough to be arrested and thrown in prison, but a soft-headed leftist judge gives them deferred adjudication. They keep their nose clean for a little while, and they get their crime pardoned. Then the next time they are arresetd, they are first offenders instead of repeat offenders. You know who doesn’t benefit from this in any way? Law-abiding citizens, that’s who.

PROP. 10, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Please vote FOR Proposition 10
The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.

The law that this proposition affects was changed by a few days so there is a gap requiring resignation from one office to run for another. THAT law should be changed, maybe, but one month more or less in office is not going to make a huge difference, especially not so much that we should force people to resign for the sake of one month of what could turn out to be a failed run for elected office.

Travis county bond election

PROP. 1, TRAVIS COUNTY BOND
Please vote AGAINST Travis County Bond Proposition #1!
The issuance of $132,840,000 of road bonds, including, without limitation, related road drainage, bike lanes and sidewalks, and replacement and improvement of road bridges, and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.

They want to build bike lanes downtown and tax you for it. Do you use bike lanes in Downtown Austin?

PROP. 2, TRAVIS COUNTY BOND
Please vote AGAINST on Travis County Bond Proposition 2
The issuance of $82,105,000 of bonds for the purposes of constructing and improving county parks and the acquisition of land and interests in land in connection therewith, including, without limitation, the acquisition of open space park land; and acquiring conservation easements on land for any authorized purposes, including, without limitation, to retain or protect natural, scenic, or open-space values of real property or assure its availability for agricultural, recreational, or open-space use, protect natural resources, maintain or enhance air or water quality, or conserve water quantity or quality, and the levying of the tax in payment thereof.

They want to tax YOU $82 MILLION to be able to buy land for parks, and then not develop it. This is not what you want to spend your money on.

City of Pflugerville Charter Amendment Election
Pflugerville is trying to join the 20th century. I say let’s go for it. When was the last time you looked at the official notices section of the Official Newspaper?

PROP. 1, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR City of Pflugerville Proposition 1
AMENDING SECTION 3.15 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 3.15(d). Effective date.
Shall the City Charter be amended to require that no ordinance imposing a penalty, fine or forfeiture shall become effective until the caption of the ordinance summarizing the purpose of the ordinance and penalty for violation has been published on the city’s official website or other electronic media that is readily available to the public in lieu of publishing one time in the city’s official newspaper?

PROP. 2, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Plesae vote FOR COP Prop 2. Unless you think office workers need to have access to special appeals processes you don’t.
AMENDING SECTION 4.05 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS:Sec. 4.05(d).Personnel Appeal Board.
Shall the City Charter be amended so that only commissioned peace officers that are regular, full time employees or regular, part-time employees of the City (excluding all other City employees, contract employees and any other commissioned peace officers that do not report to the Police Chief) may appeal suspensions, demotions or terminations to the Personnel Appeal Board?

PROP. 3, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 3
AMENDING SECTION 5.01 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 5.01(c). Registered voters list.
Shall the City Charter be amended so that a list of voters registered in the city shall be made available to the public by the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and the Williamson County Elections Administrator in lieu of the City Secretary?

This appears to be change for the sake of change, so NO.

PROP. 4, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote AGAINST Proposition 4
AMENDING SECTION 5.04 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS:Sec. 5.04. Canvassing.
Shall the Charter be amended to eliminate the requirement that the returns of any municipal election shall be delivered from the Election Judges to the City Secretary and the Mayor not later than twelve hours after the polls are closed?

We use electronic voting machines. There is no excuse for delay. Note that this used to say FOR but that was only because I had typed it up at ohlord-thirty in the morning.

PROP. 5, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 5
AMENDING SECTION 7.06 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 7.06(c). Publication of proposed or referred ordinance.
Shall the Charter be amended to require that a copy of any proposed or referred ordinance be published on the city’s official website or other electronic media that is readily available to the public in lieu of publishing one time in the city’s official newspaper and requiring that the caption of the proposed or referred ordinance be posted at City Hall at least fifteen days preceding the election?

PROP. 6, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 6
AMENDING SECTION 8.07 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 8.07(d). Texas Open Meetings Act.
Shall the Charter be amended to require that the City conduct all its meetings in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act?

PROP. 7, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 7
AMENDING SECTION 9.03 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 9.03(a). Annual Budget. Content.
Shall the Charter be amended to require that except in the event of an emergency under Section 9.04(b), the adopted budget must include an unencumbered general fund balance that is at least sufficient to cover three months of the city’s budgeted general fund operation and maintenance expense

I generally like reserve funds. You never know what might happen. Now, if they start trying to raid the cookie jar we will need to slap their hands, but this might be a good idea for just-in-case cash flow interruptions.

PROP. 8, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 8
AMENDING SECTION 9.03 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS: Sec. 9.03(c). Public notice and hearing.
Shall the Charter be amended to require that council post a summary of the proposed budget and a notice stating the times and places where copies of the message and budget are available for inspection by the public and the time and place for a public hearing on the budget in City Hall and publish the same on the city’s official website or other electronic media that is readily available to the public in lieu of publishing one time in the city’s official newspaper?

PROP. 9, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 9
AMENDING SECTION 9.04 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS:Sec. 9.04(b). Amendments After Adoption. Emergency appropriations.
Shall the Charter be amended to allow the City Council to suspend the three-month general fund operating reserve requirement in the event of an emergency by resolution and requiring the resolution to reference the emergency and provide a process and timeline for rebuilding the reserve?

PROP. 10, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 10
AMENDING SECTION 10.03 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS:Sec. 10.03. Enacting Franchise Ordinances.
Shall the Charter be amended to require that an ordinance granting, renewing, extending, or amending a public utility franchise be published on the city’s official website or other electronic media that is readily available to the public in lieu of publishing one time in the city’s official newspaper?

PROP. 11, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
Please vote FOR Proposition 11
AMENDING SECTION 11.02 OF THE CHARTER AS FOLLOWS:Sec. 11.02. Official Newspaper.
Shall the Charter be amended to replace the Official Newspaper with an Official Notice requiring that ordinances, notices and other matters required to be published by this charter, city ordinances, or State constitution or laws shall be published on the city’s official website or other electronic media that is readily available to the public in lieu of publishing one time in the city’s official newspaper?

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