November 03, 2015

Vote no to #txlege stupidity; oppose 6 state constitutional amendments

As we near the start of early voting, Texas Election Law has a good rundown on this year's amendments.

And, I add some follow-up thoughts of my own.

I'm going to start with Amendment 7, with this separate piece here noting that the total environmental and other cost of more road-building isn't priced into it.

I oppose Amendment 7 for another reason. I oppose it because there is no need for an amendment to encumber money in such a way. The Lege just needed to vote for that to happen. Yes, it can't I hugely dislike state constitutional amendments that result from the Lege refusing to do its job. Yes, one Legislature can't legally bind another one two years down the road. So? Each Legislature then needs to vote to do its job every two years.

Again, regardless of the issue of whether or not Texas should be devoting more and more tax dollars to covering the ground in pavement (versus more mass transit, or encouraging less sprawl in our urban areas), we need to stop letting the allegedly fiscally conservative Texas Legislature refuse to do its elected job.

The other six propositions?

As a community newspaper editor, I loathe Prop. 1. Vote no. The Texas Legislature, even as the latest school finance lawsuit sits in the docket in the Texas Supreme Court, has a decade-plus history under its current wingnut overlords of misfunding and underfunding state public schools. Don't let them do it even worse with this amendment.

The amendment is even worse for having required school districts to craft their fiscal 2016 budgets in an anticipatory fashion, rather than waiting a year to kick in. It's the poster child for everything wrong with Republican Austin.

In fact, I think it is, by constitutional law definition, an ex post facto law, and the Constitution of the USofA, if not the Texas one, bars states from doing that.

I cite Article I, Section 10:
No State shall enter into any TreatyAlliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tenderin Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

And, the way I read this amendment, it’s an ex post facto law.

Besides, who wouldn't like to see Texas school districts sue the state AGAIN? (Besides the Lege not wanting to see that, that is.) And, to that end, I have asked the Texas Association of School Boards if it sees things that way. I'll post any response I get.

Update: TASB notes that it serves primarily as a "source of information and support for school board members." However, it will be looking at Prop. 1 "closely." (That said, whether taking the lead, or filing an amicus brief, TASB could, theoretically, be part of legal action if it wanted, as I see things.)

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Plus, that's not all the nastiness. As Texas Election Law notes, as part of the continuing steaming pile of budget-related legal notices the state is dumping on local taxing entities, a related Senate bill requires school districts to write PR flak for the Lege in their tax bills.

Prop. 2 deserves TEL's snark. "We" all in Republican Austin love veterans, just like in Republican D.C., except when it comes to medical bills, mental health bills, etc. But, it's worth a yes vote.

Prop. 3? Absolutely vote no. The capital of Texas is in Austin, and if alleged government-hating Republicans dislike that fact so much that they don't want official residences there, the answer is simple: Stop holding elective statewide office.

Prop. 4? Allegedly pro-free enterprise Republican Austin already gives too many handouts to our state's professional sports teams, what with past tweaks in hotel-motel and rental car taxes and other things. File 13 this nonsense. Besides, we don't need more lotteries in the state in general, between the Texas Lottery, PowerBall and Mega Millions. Period and end of story.

Prop. 5? Absolutely vote no on an amendment that violates at least the letter of Texas' anti-corruption legislation, and possibly the spirit of it as well. What next? Counties of up to 20,000?

Prop. 6? Vote no on this, just because it's a bit of anti-Obama, pro-NRA nuttery.

There you have it. It's OK to vote Yes on 2, but you don't have to. (And, sorry, Perry, but we disagree on three of seven.

Otherwise? Pull the "party line" No lever. Send the Lege a message as part of voting No.

Also send a message to Progress Texas, which lost its "Progress" label by calling Prop. 1 a "toss-up." Prop. 4 I can give it a pass, but ignoring the anti-corruption background of Prop. 5 with a Yes suggestion? No way Jose.


Meanwhile, Houstonians who've yet to vote, don't "hold out" for a HERO; go help create one. Make your city more Dallas-like.

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