Texans are tasked with voting on 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution in the Nov. 7 election — covering everything from funding for projects and infrastructure to raises for retired teachers.
This election, you’ll have the opportunity to vote on amendments regarding our power grid, access to high-speed broadband internet, property taxes, and more. Constitutional amendment elections may not be flashy, but they’re just as important as candidate elections, and they can greatly affect your day-to-day life and community.
Are you ready to vote for change? Get ready to make informed decisions at the ballot box by reading the text of the proposed amendments below — we’ve even added explainers on what they’d do!
Early Voting: Oct. 23 – Nov. 3, 2023 | Election Day: Nov. 7, 2023
Proposed Constitutional Amendments for the Nov. 7 Election Explained
Click the amendment for its explainer.
This amendment would establish a constitutional right for a person to farm, ranch, produce timber, engage in horticulture, or manage wildlife on property the person owns or leases. It would also raise the bar for state and local regulation of these practices.
The State of Texas could still allow state agencies and local governments to regulate farming practices if they provide clear and convincing evidence regulation is needed to protect public health from imminent danger. This amendment would not affect state actions to protect animal health or crop production, or state or local government efforts to preserve or conserve the state’s natural resources.
Amendment supporters say it’s important to prevent overregulation of agriculture as our population grows and demand increases. Those against it say it limits the power of local governments to protect the health of their communities and allows farms of all sizes to operate with less accountability.
This amendment would allow counties and cities to offer relief for certain childcare businesses by lowering or exempting providers from property taxes.
Supporters of the amendment say it would reduce costs for childcare centers that have struggled to stay afloat since the start of the pandemic. With federal COVID-19 relief money expiring soon, many childcare facilities are expected to close — but a tax break could prevent that for some. Critics say these tax exemptions would result in higher burdens for homeowners and other businesses who might have to make up the difference.
This amendment would prohibit Texas from imposing a so-called “wealth tax.” Several states have proposed the idea of a “wealth tax,” meaning a tax on the value of a person’s assets (what they own) minus their debts or liabilities (what they owe) — but Texas is not one of them.
Supporters of the amendment say Texans shouldn’t be penalized for creating wealth and starting businesses. Critics of the amendment argue that Texas should keep the option of a wealth tax on the table as a way to address wealth inequality by shifting the burden to those who can afford to pay more. It could also help pay for costly programs without affecting low-income people. They also question why voters are being asked to ban a wealth tax now, when such a proposal has never even been on the table here in Texas.
This amendment would allow tax cuts that were approved by the Legislature during the second 2023 Special Session to take effect this year.
- The proposed amendment would increase the mandatory homestead exemption for school district property taxation from $40,000 to $100,000. The homestead exemption is the amount of the appraised value of a residence that cannot be taxed to pay for public schools.
- It also would send $7.1 billion to school districts so they can replace lost tax revenues and lower their property tax rates.
- Under this amendment, the Legislature could temporarily limit the maximum appraised value of qualifying non-homestead property that’s worth less than $5 million by maxing the taxable value increase by 20% each year. This limit would expire in 2026.
- This amendment would also allow voters to elect three members to their local appraisal district board of directors — these are currently appointed.
People who support the amendment say the property tax cuts would help Texas homeowners and would shift the burden of school funding away from property taxes to other sources. Those against it say renters, many of whom are struggling with high rents, would not see any relief — and the package doesn’t include any new money for schools or teacher pay despite Texas being near the bottom in school funding rankings.
This amendment would provide money for research grants for Texas public universities through two new funds that would replace the current National Research University Fund: the Texas University Fund (TUF) and the National Research Support Fund.
The TUF would support research grants at Texas State, Texas Tech, the University of Houston, and the University of North Texas. The National Research Support Fund would support UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas, UT-El Paso, and UTSA. The Texas A&M and University of Texas systems would not receive this money because they already receive dedicated money from a separate fund.
The Legislature would provide $4 billion of initial funding for the TUF, plus up to $100 million/year of the interest and investment income from the state’s rainy day fund. Funding for the National Research Support Fund would have to be approved every two years by the Texas Legislature.
Supporters of the amendment say it helps higher education by providing stable funding for the universities supported by the TUF, and research at public universities helps drive the economy. Those against the amendment say it continues the unequal treatment of Texas universities since these funds only support a handful of institutions — plus, the National Research Support Fund is not stable and would still require legislative approval every two years.
This amendment would create the Texas water fund, a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund, to assist in financing water projects in the state. The Texas Water Development Board would administer the fund.
Supporters say this amendment would help create community projects to ensure future water availability for Texans, replace and repair aging pipes, and upgrade water and wastewater treatment plants. Opponents say the amount the Legislature has agreed to put in the fund is not enough to cover these types of projects and it would allow funds to be taken from state revenues.
This amendment would establish the Texas energy fund, a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund. It would be used by the Public Utility Commission to provide loans or grants to companies to build or upgrade natural gas-fueled power plants.
Those against the amendment say it would primarily fund natural gas-fueled power plants and emit greenhouse gasses that drive climate change. Clean energy solutions like solar and wind projects are not eligible for grants from the fund. Those in favor of it say this funding is needed to increase the reliability of the grid, especially for extreme weather conditions, even though gas-fueled power plants proved unreliable during the 2021 winter storm.
This amendment would approve the creation of the broadband infrastructure fund, a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund, to expand internet access in Texas. The fund would be administered by the Comptroller and would include the development of telecommunications services as well as 911 services.
The fund would expire on Sept. 1, 2035, unless extended by the legislature.
Supporters say it will expand high-speed internet access to Texans all across the state, including areas where private companies don’t currently operate. Currently, some 7 million
Texans currently lack internet access. Critics say expanding internet access is the responsibility of private companies, not the government. They also say it doesn’t prioritize lower-income communities, and the fund will not be enough to provide high-speed internet to all Texans.
During the Regular Session, legislators passed Senate Bill 10 to provide cost-of-living raises for the pension checks of some retired Texas teachers. This amendment would finance these raises by allowing the legislature to move $3.3 billion from the general revenue fund to the retired teachers fund.
Supporters say the adjustment would help retired teachers — who haven’t seen a cost-of-living raise in nearly 20 years — make ends meet. The funds would come from the budget surplus. Those against it say it’s not enough to offset the impact of inflation, and payments to retired teachers don’t address the current teacher shortage.
This amendment would remove the property tax on certain equipment and inventory belonging to manufacturers of medical or biomedical products, such as pharmaceuticals, PPE stocks, and medical devices. Property tax on other property of these companies would stay the same.
Supporters of the tax exemption say it would encourage manufacturers to relocate to Texas and create jobs, lower healthcare costs, and strengthen the supply chain. Critics say already-hurting school districts can’t take another revenue decrease. Plus, lowering taxes for one industry likely means other businesses and individuals would have to make up the difference.
The Texas Constitution currently permits conservation and reclamation districts in 11 counties to issue bonds to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities. This amendment would add El Paso County to that list.
Supporters say this amendment would support El Paso County’s underfunded parks system, benefit the health and wellness of residents, and further economic growth and development for the region. Critics say it could increase property taxes for county residents.
This amendment would abolish the office of County Treasurer in Galveston County effective Jan. 1, 2024. The duties would be assigned to other offices or contracted out.
The current county treasurer ran on the platform of abolishing the position, saying it’s “redundant and a waste of more than half a million dollars each year.” The County Treasurers Association of Texas opposes the amendment, arguing it won’t save money. Opposers also say elected county treasurers are accountable to voters and important for checks and balances in local government.
This amendment would only affect Galveston County, but for it to take effect, it must pass in both Galveston County and statewide. If successful, Galveston would be the 10th Texas county to remove its treasurer.
This amendment would raise the mandatory retirement age for state justices and judges to 79 (previously 75), and increase the minimum retirement age to 75 (previously 70).
Supporters say people are living longer, experienced state judges should be allowed to serve longer if they’re capable and willing, and the Judicial Conduct Commission can address any issues with a judge’s competence between elections. Critics say that extending the age limit could worsen the representation gap between judges and the populations they serve, and the Judicial Conduct Commission might not be able to promptly address issues with older judges.
This amendment would direct up to $1 billion from the budget surplus and other sources to establish the centennial parks conservation fund as a trust fund outside the state treasury. The funding would go to buying land to create and improve state parks.
Amendment supporters say it’s important to invest in state parks because they provide affordable access to outdoor recreation, protect resources and wildlife, provide an economic boost to the outdoor industry and rural communities nearby, and preserve cultural and historic sites. Those against it don’t want taxpayer money to go to state parks and feel that there are more pressing needs — and having more public lands could impose restrictions on private development and limit agricultural and mineral rights.
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