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Texas Constitution Assignment

 

How is the Texas Constitution changed?

As you've read in your text, changes to the Texas Constitution are proposed by the state legislature, but can only be approved by a majority vote in a statewide election. In 2013, the Texas Legislature voted to propose 10 amendments, which were all approved by voters.

This year, the legislature was able to reach a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate for seven proposed changes. Voters will have an opportunity to decide whether not to make each change in the November 3 election.

One measure, Proposition 1, was written to increase the "homestead exemption" for property taxes.

Local governments and school districts get most of their money through ad valorem taxes – a tax on the value of all property in the jurisdiction. To give homeowners a break, there has always been a homestead exemption – a special provision that lets you reduce the value of your home that counts toward calculating your tax.

Proposition 1 was designed to increase the mandatory homestead exemption amount from $15,000 to $25,000 – meaning you would pay tax on your $150,000 house as if it were only worth $125,000. If voters approve, the state will pay the revenue difference to school districts.

Supporters said property taxes are out of control, that the state has the money, and that this is where a tax cut was most needed since real estate values have risen so much faster than wages in recent years. Opponents would have rather seen that money invested in more government services, or used to cut a more regressive (anti-poor) tax like the state sales tax.

What do you think?

For this assignment, read the House Research Organization's report on Proposition 1:http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/pdf/focus/amend84.pdf

If you need more, look at the Texas Legislative Council's version, too:http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/pubsconamend/analyses15/analyses15.pdf

The Texas Tribune tells how the election came out:http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/03/texas-statewide-2015-election-results/

Write an essay (4 – 5 pages, double-spaced, cited sources). Make sure your essay tells your reader:

  1. The number and author of the joint resolution proposing this amendment.
  2. What the proposed amendment would do.
  3. Arguments for and against.
  4. Who you think might have been for it and against it (Hint: see who testified at the hearing, and who they represented).
  5. Why you think it was a good idea or a bad idea.
  6. What did Texas voters will decide?

Submit in Word. Cite your sources.

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