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Bailey continues review of constitutional amendments on November 6th ballot

This is the final article in a series in which State Representative Kevin Bailey briefly discusses the 19 constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot November 6th.

If you would like additional information on these amendments or any of the other 16 proposed amendments, feel free to call the district office of State Representative Kevin Bailey at 281-847-9000

PROPOSITION NO.17 will take us back to our history books again. Under a law dating to 1836, settlers had a right to survey land they wanted to claim or purchase, but the state retained all land not specifically claimed in those surveys. In 1981 1991, and 1993, Texas voters amended the constitution to remedy title defects for certain landowners. This proposition would amend the Constitution to authorize the state to relinquish claim to certain land, except for mineral rights, and to cleat title defects for the owners of those lands.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT: The state needs a way to clear the title to land held by innocent parties, resolve inequities, and avoid expensive court fights. In some cases, the current owner bought land in good faith but now faces the prospect of having to buy it again-or possibly lose land held in the family for years-because of a dispute over events that occurred as long ago as the 1800s. This proposition would create a permanent mechanism to settle laud disputes involving public school lands without the expense and trouble of a constitutional amendment election for each case in dispute.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: The Legislature and Texas voters should retain the right to review specific decisions made to relinquish the State’s interests and to resolve title problems involving individual landowners. Some of the land in the scrap files could be very valuable, and adequate checks and balances should be in place to protect the state’s interest. Some claims now pending before the General Land Office could fail to meet the restrictions established by Proposition 17 and still would require a separate constitutional amendment.

PROPOSITION NO. 18 The Legislature in 1999 directed the comptroller to “develop strategies for increasing the efficiency and reducing the complexity of fee collection and dispersal by county and municipal clerks” and submit recommendations to the Legislature. Proposition No. 18 is the result. It would amend the Constitution to invalidate a criminal or civil court fee that was required to be collected by local government personnel and remitted to the comptroller unless the requirements for collecting, depositing, reporting, and remitting that fee conformed to a consolidated and standardized program enacted by the Legislature to govern those activities.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT: Proposition 18 would help ease a wasteful burden on local governments and courts by establishing that, to be valid, any court fee created in the future would have to conform to a consolidation and a standardization program created by the Legislature for collection, reporting, and remittance to the comptroller.
REASONS TO CONSIDER AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: A constitutional amendment to consolidate and standardize court fees is unnecessary. All the desired changes to court fee administration could be accomplished through statuary changes. The legislature made a start toward this goal in the 1997 session with the consolidated court cost program.

PROPOSITION NO. 19 would allow the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to issue up to $2 billion in additional general obligation bonds for one or more accounts of the Texas Water Development Fund II. TWDB operates the state loan program to make loans to local governments or nonprofit water-supply corporations for water supply projects. Money from the fund must be used to implement water projects recommended in the state and regional water plans.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR TI-US AMENDMENT: Selling general obligation bonds is the most cost-effective way to raise the large sums needed to pay for expensive water projects that promote economic development and better living conditions throughout Texas. These low interest bonds would be used to back more loans to Texas communities to finance projects for water supply, water quality, and flood control, as well as for the state participation program.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: Authorizing TWDB to issue additional bonds would be premature. The $490 million remaining in the board’s bond authorization should be sufficient through the next biennium. Without an urgent need for additional authorization, the state should wait until the next legislative session to ask the voters for the authority to issue more bonds.

Additional information on the proposed amendments can also be obtained from the Texas House of Representatives web site at: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/hrofr/framer1.htm