AUSTIN – Texas voters overwhelmingly supported eight changes to the state constitution – including two changes related to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the changes would prohibit state entities from introducing rules restricting religious services. The second would enable nursing home residents to appoint an important caregiver who could not be denied a personal visit.
Also on the North Texas ballot was the race for the Mesquite mayor and a controversial Southlake Carroll ISD election to special school board along with proposals for city, county and school district bonds.
Sll of the amendments were adopted by a wide margin, although the amendment to prevent the restriction of religious services was the closest of the eight, with just under 60% of voters approving.
Proposal 1 would allow the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to hold charity lotteries at rodeo events, just as Texas’ professional sports teams do at their home games.
Proposition 2 authorizes counties to issue bonds to finance transportation and infrastructure projects in neglected or underdeveloped areas. Cities can already issue these bonds, but not counties.
The proposed change will allow counties to use increases in property tax revenues in the area to repay the bonds. Critics argue that the proposal would create more local debt.
Proposal 3 prohibits any state entity from adopting rules prohibiting or restricting religious services. The proposed change, praised by followers for protecting religious freedom, comes after some places of worship were restricted during pandemic shutdowns.
Proposal 4 requires law graduates residing in Texas with a license to practice law in Texas to be practicing lawyers or judges for at least eight to 10 years prior to the election and not having their law license revoked or suspended during that time.
Supporters said the proposal is intended to ensure a higher quality judiciary. Critics said the stricter requirements could exclude younger, more diverse lawyers from judicial appointments or races.
Proposal 5 allows the State Judicial Conduct Commission to take complaints, conduct investigations and take other action against a candidate running for state judicial office. The Commission currently only deals with officials, not candidates.
The legislators behind the proposed amendment said it seeks to “ensure that judicial choices are fair” by keeping candidates and sitting judges to the same standards.
Proposition 6 gives residents of nursing homes and similar long-term care facilities the right to appoint a significant caregiver who could not be denied a personal visit. The proposed change responds to plant closures earlier in the pandemic, where residents were isolated from their loved ones for several months.
Proposal 7 would allow a surviving spouse of a person who is disabled and receives exemptions from household taxes on school district property taxes to continue to benefit from the exemption as long as the surviving spouse is 55 years of age or older.
Proposal 8 would extend tax exemptions for a surviving spouse to a member of the military who dies from injuries sustained during their service, whether related to combat or not.
In local elections, Mesquite voters elected District 6 councilor Dan Aleman as mayor over Ron Ward. Aleman becomes the city’s first Latino mayor.
In Northeast Tarrant County’s Southlake Carroll ISD, Andrew Yeager, a sales director at NBC Universal, easily defeated former teacher Stephanie Williams. Yeager was backed by the influential Southlake Families PAC, which supported two graduates who won school board seats in May.
The election came amid a tense period for Carroll ISD and Southlake. The district has been involved in a controversy over a proposed diversity plan, which led to the city becoming the subject of a national NBC News podcast. Recently, the district sanctioned a teacher who had an anti-racist book in his classroom, and a school administrator was heard telling teachers they might have to include books that “oppose” the Holocaust.
In Richardson, a $ 190 million bond package for streets, government buildings, sidewalks, drainage and parks passed easily.
Allen ISD voters said in an early ballot no to two bond proposals totaling $ 23.6 million for updates to several school and sports facilities.
Tarrant County voters approved $ 400 million in street and road bonds, but rejected another $ 116 million proposal to build and equip new offices for the district attorney’s office.
In other Texas elections, Austin voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot that would have required the city to hire hundreds of police officers. Some city officials said the demand would have put pressure on the city’s budget.
Police Editor Mede Nix contributed to this report.