Texas voters Tuesday approved seven proposed constitutional amendments.
Proposition 1 allows qualifying, partially disabled veterans or their surviving spouses to get exemptions from some property taxes if their home was donated by charity for less than market value. This is meant to fix a state constitutional amendment approved in 2013 that provided property tax exemptions for disabled veterans living in fully donated homes - which inadvertently excluded veterans who paid some of the cost of their homes.
Proposition 2 reduces restrictions on Texans borrowing against equity in their homes. It allows access to more credit and lower fees associated with some home equity loans, while exempting some costs from counting toward caps on what can be charged. It also aims to let farmers and ranchers get home equity loans on agricultural property. Texas only legalized home equity loans 20 years ago but imposed restrictions to discourage homeowners' over-borrowing against inflated home values. This amendment will ease what its supporters now say were unnecessarily cautious controls.
Proposition 3 limits how long many gubernatorial appointees can serve in their posts. It mandates that most appointees whose term has expired but who haven't yet had a replacement named continue serving only until the end of the next legislative session - rather than until a new appointee is named, as often happens currently. The aim is limit gubernatorial appointees retaining long-expired posts for extended periods.
Proposition 4 requires that judges notify the Texas attorney general's office when the constitutionality of state laws are challenged. It also aims to mandate that those judges rule within 45 days if the laws are constitutional or not.
Proposition 5 lets minor league teams, women's teams and entities like golfing events and motorsports associations hold chartable raffles in Texas. A state constitutional amendment approved in 2015 began allowing teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Astros to hold cash raffles at games. This amendment will let more teams and sports do so.
Proposition 6 offers property taxes exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. It's similar to exemptions already given in Texas to surviving spouses of veterans killed while serving. The Legislature already approved first responder tax exemptions, which are set to take effect if this amendment passes.
Proposition 7 allows banks and credit unions to offer raffles and other prizes to people opening savings accounts. Twenty-plus states have already approved "prize-linked" savings accounts legislation. The proposition is backed by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal, Austin-based think tank, which says that similar laws elsewhere have allowed more than 75,000 prize-linked savings accounts containing more than $175 million to open since 2009.