voting

One local sales tax referendum and 10 state constitutional amendments will be on the ballots in the upcoming Nov. 5 election.

There are no local offices up for election.

Early voting will take place Oct. 21 through Nov. 1 at a new location this year: the Panola County courthouse’s first-floor kitchen, across from the auto registration office. Election Day voting takes place at polling stations throughout Panola County.

Panola County

Panola County residents living in the Emergency Service District No. 1 — in essence anyone living outside of Carthage —are being asked to decide on a sales tax referendum.

The Panola County Emergency Services District No. 1 is asking for the adoption of a local sales and use tax at the rate of one half percent. If approved, monies raised by the increase in sales tax would be able to be used for the emergency district’s operations and equipment.

State Constitution Amendments

Statewide, Texans will be voting on 10 new constitutional amendments.

A non-partisan voters’ guide from the Texas League of Women Voters is available online at VOTE411.org or in physical form at libraries throughout the state.

Proposition 1 is “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”

The Texas Constitution prohibits a person from holding more than one public office at the same time but has many exceptions, including county commissioner, justice of the peace, notary public, postmaster, etc. The proposed constitutional amendment would add elected municipal judge to this list of exceptions.

A municipal judge oversees pre-trial hearings, small claims proceedings, and misdemeanor cases in a city or town. Proposition 1 would allow municipal judges to hold more than one paid public office at the same time, meaning they could simultaneously preside over multiple municipalities, regardless of whether they were appointed or elected.

Proposition 2 is “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”

Proposition 2 would allow the Water Development Board to issue general obligation bonds for the Economically Distressed Areas Program. The outstanding bonds could not exceed $200 million. The bonds would be used to develop water supply and sewer projects in economically depressed areas of the state.

EDAP assists water infrastructure projects when the median income of a region is less than 75 percent of the state’s median income. The proposed amendment would give the Water Development Board the money to finance water and wastewater infrastructure in economically distressed areas.

Proposition 3 is “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”

Proposition 3 would allow the Texas Legislature to give a temporary property tax exemption in a governor-declared disaster area. The exemption would be 15 percent, 30 percent, 60 percent or 100 percent, depending on the amount of property damage. The local government would choose whether or not to adopt the temporary exemption and would determine how long the exemption would last.

Proposition 4 is “The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”

Proposition 4 would prohibit the Texas Legislature from establishing a personal state income tax.

Proposition 5 is “The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.”

Proposition 5 would require the Legislature to allocate the money raised from state sales taxes on sporting goods (i.e., hunting, fishing, outdoor equipment) to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Revenue from such taxes would be used to improve and manage state and local parks and historic sites, and to acquire new sites.

Proposition 5 closes a loophole in the current law that prevents all the revenue raised by these sales taxes from being given to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission, thus allowing some of the money to be used to balance the state budget.

Proposition 6 is “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”

The proposed amendment would increase the maximum bond amount for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas from $3 billion to $6 billion. CPRIT provides grants and supports programs that advance cancer research. The organization, begun in 2007, is currently set up to receive $3 billion in funding until 2022.

Proposition 7 is “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”

The School Land Board, an independent entity of the General Land Office, oversees the management, sale and leasing of more than 13 million acres of land for the Permanent School Fund. The State Board of Education can then make distributions from this fund to the Available School Fund. The revenue generated from the land is used to purchase real estate and make investments to help fund public education through the Available School Fund. This proposition would increase from $300 million to $600 million the amount the General Land Office could distribute to the Available School Fund each year.

Proposition 8 is “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.”

Proposition 8 would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) as a special fund outside of general revenue. A one-time distribution from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the “rainy day fund,” would establish the FIF. The Texas Water Development Board would distribute FIF funds to local governments through loans or, in some cases, as grants.The money would be used to establish and maintain flood control structures and drainage infrastructure throughout the state, especially in economically distressed areas.

If passed, Proposition 8 would require cooperation among all impacted parties. A local government would receive money from the FIF only if it worked with other governments in the region and listened to stakeholder concerns in public meetings. The local government would also have to submit a technical analysis of the plan, comparing it to other possible projects in the region, and a proposal to repay the loan.

Proposition 9 is “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.”

Texas opened a precious metals depository in 2018, run by a private company but overseen by the state government. The Constitution requires all real and tangible personal property to be taxed on its value unless exempted. These ad valorem (property) taxes are imposed at the time of purchase or exchange of precious metals. Proposition 9 would exempt from taxation precious metals held in a precious metal depository in the state.

Proposition 10 is “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”

Proposition 10 would allow law enforcement animals to retire, and their former handlers or other qualified caretakers to adopt them with no fee. Law enforcement animals are currently considered as surplus property of the county, which means the county can only auction, donate or destroy them. Proposition 10 would change the property laws to allow the animals to retire and be transferred to their original handler or another qualified caretaker with no adoption fee.

Information in this story comes from the Panola County Elections Office and the Texas League of Women Voters.