Texas Constitutional Amendments of 2019, Part II
The 86th Legislature passed 10 joint resolutions ([link removed]) proposing amendments to the state constitution, which will be on the election ballot for voter approval on November 5, 2019. This e-newsletter serves as the second of three which will outline the 10 propositions.
Comments in support or opposition of these amendments reflect the positions that were presented in committee proceedings, during House or Senate floor debates, or prepared by the House Research Organization ([link removed]) when the resolution was considered.
We hope these analyses will help you in determining how you will vote this November. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact our office!
Propositions 5-7 (of 10)
The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas' natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.
The short: Amendment 5 would dedicate almost all of the state's sporting goods sales tax revenue to the operation and maintenance of all 103 state parks and historical sites in Texas. Although current law provides for this allocation of funding, the amount actually appropriated is substantially less.
* State parks in Texas received a record 9.7 million visits in 2017. Chronic underfunding of the state park system has left many parks unable to safely and adequately accommodate visitors. The constitutional amendment will help to ensure that our parks have the resources they need to adequately fund maintenance projects, maintain appropriate staff levels, ensure visitor safety, and expand to meet the needs of a growing population.
* Ensuring that the Texas Historical Commission continues to receive appropriate sporting goods sales tax revenue will afford the commission the ability to properly manage and maintain the many historic sites under the commissioner's control.
* Although current law provides for the allocation of the sporting goods sales tax revenue to the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission, the amount of that revenue actually appropriated by the legislature to the agencies is often substantially less than the total amount of revenue derived from that tax. This leaves the agencies underfunded and unable to engage in long-term planning due to ever-changing funding levels. Providing for the automatic appropriation of sporting goods sales tax revenue will ensure that there is a sustained and predictable mechanism for the state park system and the state's historic sites.
* State parks generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in economic benefits for the state's rural communities. Ensuring that the state park system is properly funded will allow local communities in and around state parks to continue to thrive.
* Providing for the automatic appropriation of sporting goods sales tax revenue to the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission in the state constitution deprives the legislature of the ability to elect to use a portion of that revenue for other purposes determined by the legislature to be as important to the state as parks and historic sites, such as balancing the state's budget or responding to an emergency.
* Amending the constitution to address this issue is unnecessary. The legislature has the ability to fund state agencies and programs at levels the legislature determines are appropriate through the biennial appropriations process, which is how the vast majority of state agencies and programs are funded. There is no need to treat the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission differently from other state agencies in this regard.
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
The short: Amendment 6 doubles the bonds for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, further assisting in cancer research.
* Increasing the amount of bond funding available for the institute is essential to ensuring the institute maintains its status as a national leader in cancer research and prevention.
* Without an increase in the amount of bond funding, the institute runs the risk of exhausting its available pool of money from which to make grants before the statutory authority to make the grants expires in 2022.
* A sustainable and predictable level of funding is essential for the institute to effectively plan for the future and complete necessary research.
* The institute is a noble cause worthy of increased state funding. The institute supports world-renowned scholars and cancer researchers, including a 2018 Nobel Prize recipient, who have produced meaningful and measurable positive results from institute finding.
* The benefits of increased funding for the institute outweigh the costs. The institute programs have helped improve health outcomes, produced numerous positive economic benefits, and generated billions of dollars in state economic activity, including by encouraging biotech companies to expand in or relocate to Texas and increasing job creation in this state.
* Doubling the size of the original commitment of taxpayer money for the institute unduly increases state debt.
* Although cancer research is honorable and necessary, funding such research is not a necessary state function. An increased bond commitment will necessitate interest payments and future appropriations, and that money could be better spent on other state priorities.
* The institute does not need an additional $3 billion in taxpayer money at this time because the institute has not yet exhausted its original funding amount of $3 billion.
* Instead of giving the institute more state money, the state should assist in crafting a plan to ensure the institute is financially self-sufficient and able to achieve long-term success without reliance on increases taxpayer assistance.
The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund
The short: Amendment 7 would raise the cap on the funding the General Land Office (or another responsible entity) distributes to the available school fund when more revenue is available.
* Doubling the current $300 million cap on the annual distribution by the General Land Office (GLO) from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the available school fund (ASF) and authorizing an additional annual $600 million distribution to the ASF by the State Board of Education (SBOE) would improve funding for public schools when sufficient revenues are available. In recent years the performance of the GLO's PSF land investments could have supported annual transfers to the ASF in amounts greater than the current constitutional cap.
* The amendment would give the GLO and the SBOE the flexibility to distribute more of the proceeds of the PSF investments they respectively administer to the ASF in a given year.
* Under the amendment, the GLO and the SBOE would be expected to collaborate to maximize funding for schools. This collaboration should ease concerns about how raising the cap will affect the SBOE's portion of the PSF.
* Raising the cap on PSF transfers to the ASF could ultimately result in lower school funding because of the manner in which the GLO and the SBOE share responsibility for managing the PSF. If the GLO sends more proceeds directly to the ASF, that will mean it transfers less to the investment portfolio portion of the PSF overseen by the SBOE. The SBOE transfers money from the PSF to the ASF within limits set by the constitution, so less money in the SBOE's portion of the PSF would impact the amount of the SBOE's distribution to the ASF.
Message to subscribers: The Texas Legislative Council, a source of impartial research and information, has made background information and analysis regarding constitutional amendments available for public use, and we are thankful for their support. The full publication may be found at: [link removed].
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
Early voting will take place October 21 - November 1
Please visit the
Liberty ([link removed]) , San Jacinto ([link removed]) , or Walker ([link removed]) County Clerk's websites
for more information on when and where to vote.
If you are unsure of your voter registration status, or want to find out how to register to vote, please visit
www.VoteTexas.gov, a Texas Secretary of State resource.
The last day to apply for a ballot by mail (received not postmarked),
is Friday, October 25th, 2019.
This marks the 21st year of the Texas High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS), a program offered to high school juniors across the state, and we want the students of HD 18 to be represented!
The HAS program offers a one-of-a-kind experience for Texas high school students to explore the possibilities of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related major or career. The adventure starts this fall with an online course and culminates - for students who earn the opportunity - with a FREE onsite summer experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Students may apply for this program through October 23, 2019.
Complete an online application here:
We have seen the positive impacts of this program, with HAS students going on to receive degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields before joining the Texas hi-tech workforce – including NASA. If you would like additional information, you may also visit the NASA website ([link removed]) .
Texas Comptroller Announces Record $308 Million in Unclaimed Property Returned in Fiscal 2019
In a press release, the Comptroller's office announced they have returned more than $3 billion in unclaimed property to rightful owners since Texas' unclaimed property program began in 1962. The state is currently holding more than $5 billion in cash and other valuables through the program.
The $308 million in unclaimed property returned in fiscal 2019 includes forgotten utility deposits or other refunds, insurance proceeds, payroll checks, cashier's checks, dividends, mineral royalties, dormant bank accounts and abandoned safe-deposit box contents. Businesses generally turn property over to the unclaimed property program after it has been considered dormant for one to five years.
There is no statute of limitations for unclaimed property the state holds, which means there's no time limit for owners to file a claim--they can do so at any time.
For more information about the unclaimed property program, or to search for unclaimed property and begin the claims process, visit the Comptroller's unclaimed property website,
ClaimItTexas.org ([link removed]) , or call (800)321-2274 (CASH).
Hurricane Season Preparation
The Texas Department of Public Safety suggests several measures residents can take to prepare for future storms:
* Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions
* Review hurricane evacuation maps, and select a route for you and your family
* Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely
* Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly
* Follow the instructions of local officials if a storm develops
* Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area, and sign up for alerts here ([link removed]) .
For more information about hurricanes and how to prepare for next hurricane season, visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management ([link removed]) website and the Texas Ready ([link removed]) website.
You may also find out more about hurricane preparedness on the
National Weather Service ([link removed]) website, or via this South Texas Hurricane Guide ([link removed]) .
Around the District
Photos From Top to Bottom: 1) Luncheon for Governor Abbott in Walker County 2) Liberty County constituents in College Station for the A&M vs. Alabama football game 3) Groundbreaking for the new Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC) named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, located on Texas A&M University’s RELLIS campus 4) Meeting with the Texas Retired Teachers Association in Huntsville, TX 5) San Jacinto County Farm Bureau Annual Banquet
District Office: 936-628-6687
10501 Hwy 150, Suite B
Shepherd, TX 77371
P.O. Box 1116
Shepherd, TX 77371
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Capitol Office: 512-463-0056
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Austin, TX 78768
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State Representative Ernest Bailes . P.O. Box 2910 . Austin, Tx 78768 . USA
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