Monday, November 8, 2021

FREEDOM PREVAILS: Texans Pass All 8 State Constitutional Amendments, Including CV Shutdown Protections for Churches

Texans pass all eight amendments to the state constitution during Tuesday's election. 
Meredith Winn Photography/Getty Images

Source: Chron

Published: November 3, 2021

By: Ariana Garcia

With only nine percent of registered voters casting a ballot, Texans handily approved Propositions 3 and 6, which were both drafted to skirt pandemic restrictions.

Texans voting Tuesday passed all eight proposed amendments to the state's constitution, including two COVID-19-era related propositions, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State. The measures were passed as bills during the state's legislative session but required voter approval. Since the Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876, voters have adopted 507 amendments and rejected 180, according to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.

Voter turnout this year was lower than the last constitutional amendment election in 2019, with only about nine percent of registered Texas voters casting a ballot, according to the Texas Tribune

Proposition 3, which was approved by 63 percent voters in favor to 37 percent dissenting, bans governments from taking any action that "prohibits or limits religious services" of religious organizations, even during disasters like the coronavirus pandemic. The amendment was drafted in response to governing bodies closing churches at the start of the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Critics of Prop 3 said it could potentially have serious future consequences for public health responses since it bars the state from taking steps to mitigate disease spread.

Proposition 6, also created in response to COVID-19 restrictions, was approved 88 percent to 12 percent. The amendment allows residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities to designate an "essential caregiver" who could not, under most circumstances, be prohibited from in-person visits. Nursing homes have been among the institutions hit hardest by COVID-19. Many nursing home residents endured long periods of isolation after visitations were shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. As of August, 9,095 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Texas Tribune.

Other new amendments include Proposition 1, which allows the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association to hold charity raffles at rodeo events. Currently, unauthorized raffles can be considered illegal gambling. Proposition 2 authorizes counties to issue bonds to fund transportation or infrastructure projects in underdeveloped areas. Cities are already allowed to issue these bonds. 

Proposition 7 and 8 both passed with 87 percent approval. Prop 7 limits school district property taxes incurred by a surviving spouse of a person with disabilities who is older than 65 and has died, as long as the surviving spouse is at least 55 years old at the partner's time of death. Prop 8 expands eligibility for residential homestead property tax exemptions to include spouses of military members who succumbed to injuries sustained during their service, combat-related or otherwise. 

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