Early voting begins Oct. 23 and the Navasota Examiner will publish the 14 proposed Constitutional amendments over the next seven weeks. The Condensed Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments, 88th Legislative Session for the Nov. 7, 2023, Election is published by the Texas Legislative Council and available at: https:// www.tlc.texas.gov/docs/amendments/ analyses23_condensed.pdf.
A detailed analysis is available at: https://tlc.texas.gov/docs/amendments/ analyses23.pdf
Summary of Comments
The following comments supporting or opposing the proposed constitutional amendment reflect positions that were presented in committee proceedings, during house or senate floor debate, or in the analysis of the resolution prepared by the House Research Organization (HRO) when the resolution was considered by the House of Representatives.
Proposition 1 (H.J.R. 126)
The constitutional amendment protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.
The proposed constitutional amendment creates a new right for people to engage in generally accepted farm, ranch, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management practices on land they own or lease. The proposed amendment does not affect the legislature’s authority to authorize state or local regulation of those agricultural practices when necessary to protect health and safety, animal health and crop production, or natural resources, or to use the power of eminent domain.
Comments by Supporters
• As the state’s population continues to grow and the demand for food increases, it is important to prevent municipal overregulation that could threaten agricultural production.
• Enshrining the right to engage in activities such as farming and ranching in the Texas Constitution can help avoid some of the conflict that has been experienced when suburban expansion and development encroaches on working farmland or ranchland.
• Although there are currently protections for farmers and ranchers in statute, there is no guarantee that future legislatures will keep them.
• State agencies and political subdivisions would still be able to address serious concerns involving public health and safety and animal welfare.
• The proposed amendment officially recognizes the authority of the state or a political subdivision to regulate protected activities in order to preserve or conserve the state’s natural resources.
Comments by Opponents • Limiting governments’ abilities to set reasonable standards regarding food safety, water pollution, and animal welfare would enable large, industrial factory farms to operate with less accountability, which also could undermine smaller family farms.
• Requiring that a threat to health and safety be “imminent” before regulations may be imposed could hinder the ability of the state or local governments to regulate agricultural operations that could pose a threat to public safety during a natural disaster until the natural disaster was imminent. Additionally, requiring clear and convincing evidence that a regulation is necessary to protect public health and safety is too high a burden of proof.
• By using vague terminology such as “generally accepted practices” and “wildlife management practices,” the proposed amendment will lead to confusion or abuses by certain entities.
Proposition 2 (S.J.R. 64)
The constitutional amendment authorizing a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a county or municipality of all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility.
S.J.R. 64, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, proposes to add Section 1-r to Article VIII, Texas Constitution, to authorize the governing body of a county or municipality to exempt from ad valorem taxation all or part of the appraised value of real property used to operate a child-care facility. The resolution authorizes the governing body of the county or municipality to adopt the exemption as a percentage of the appraised value of the property, provided that the percentage adopted by the governing body is not less than 50 percent. The resolution further authorizes the legislature by general law to define “childcare facility” for purposes of the exemption and to prescribe eligibility requirements for the exemption.
Comments by Supporters • Inflationary costs are making it hard for child-care facilities to stay in business, and many facilities in Texas have closed in recent years. This leaves working families with fewer options for child care.
• The high costs associated with operating child-care facilities and the inability of facilities to provide competitive wages have resulted in a shortage of employees for many child-care facilities.
• High property taxes have contributed to the rising cost of childcare.
• Providing local governments with the authority to offer a tax exemption for property used to operate an eligible child-care facility may free up resources that could be used to hire and retain staff, which would help to reduce the prevalence of child-care deserts in Texas communities. A facility’s savings from such an exemption may also be passed down to consumers, which would address child-care affordability.
Comments by Opponents • No opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment was expressed during legislative consideration of the proposal.