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Y’all Go Vote

Hey, there’s an election today.

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Associated Press | Harry Cabluck

Today is Election Day, though you might not have noticed. Typical for odd-numbered years, it’s been a quiet election season, and the turnout will surely reflect that. Just 33.70 percent of Texas’s registered voters participated in last year’s general election, and that number will surely be even lower this year, since the statewide ballot consists solely of proposed constitutional amendments.

Still, the propositions in question will have real implications for the people of Texas, including some of our state’s most vulnerable residents. Millions of Texans must decide some fairly significant local elections. Houstonians will elect a new mayor, and weigh in on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance; my home district in the Texas House, HD 121, is going to decide on a replacement for the outgoing Joe Farias. And if you were among the Texans who was surprised and dismayed by the indictment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, just months after he was sworn in as the state’s top law enforcement official—well, at the risk of being a scold, you really have no one to blame but yourself for that, but perhaps you can look at this year’s elections as a shot at redemption.

The Secretary of State’s office has the information you need about where and how to vote, as well as a preview of what you’ll see on the ballot. If you’re in a last-minute civic scramble, here’s a quick crib sheet about what to do once you get in the booth. The most consequential of the seven propositions are No. 1 and No. 7.

Proposition 1 proposes to raise the homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 for local school district taxes. This would save the average homeowner a couple hundred dollars a year on their property taxes, but it comes with a heavy cost: The state is constitutionally obligated to pony up. Covering the school districts’ lost revenue will cost about $1.3 billion in the next two fiscal years, if this thing passes, and every biennium thereafter. Since the Lege is seemingly disinclined to raise taxes or otherwise expand extant revenue collections, this money will have to be found elsewhere in the state’s notoriously lean budget. I pay property taxes in Travis County, but I’ll be voting no on Proposition 1, possibly with enough force to break the machine.

Proposition 7 proposes to guarantee more funding for transportation, largely by dedicating a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax to the highway fund rather than to general revenue; Aman Batheja explains it in full detail at the Texas Tribune. I’m voting yes on this one. Even the most conservative among us, I think, would agree that infrastructure is a core function of government, and I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve spent many hours sitting in traffic contemplating Texas’s dramatic economic and population growth since the beginning of the century.

As for the others, your vote may hinge on whether you’d like to see the Lege take an ambitious approach to policy-making during its brief and madcap sessions. If so, you might want to cast a protest vote against something like Prop 6, which calls for a constitutional amendment recognizing that Texans have the right to hunt and fish, but might be described as a solution looking for a problem, while actual problems went neglected by our representatives. My own feeling is that legislators, like officials, should first do no harm, and voting yes on Props 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 is a way to provide them with some positive reinforcement.

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  • jammerjim

    Watching the Leg try to come up with that $1.3 billion will be interesting, barring a sudden rise in oil revenues.

    • WUSRPH

      The amount they will have to come up with is far more than $1.3 billion…In fact, it tops $9.2 billion. (See above).

    • nah…all we have to do is keep the tax and spenders away from the throttle.

      • WUSRPH

        I presume you mean Sen. Nelson and Lt. Gov. Patrick when you talk about keeping “spenders” away from the throttle since they pushed thru the largest state budget in HISTORY. What happened to all that “cutting” MeandDan were going to do?

    • Erica Grieder

      Yes, especially considering that there’s gonna be a school finance ruling between now and then, and Patrick doesn’t want to cut Medicaid therapy after all.


    Be fiscally responsible,, vote no on everything.

    • and thats why I voted yes on everything…..want to be incharge and tell me what to do? First you have to win an election.

  • dave in texas

    I discovered today that you no longer have to vote at your precinct location on election day; you can vote at any voting station. So, one less excuse to blow off voting.

    ETA: I’m assuming that you still have to be in your county of residence and that this applies to all the counties and not just Travis County.

    • Mark Coopers

      I’m not sure this statement is true. In Harris County, one can vote anywhere in the county during the 2-week early voting period. But, on actual Election Day, one has to appear at one’s precinct.
      The “vote anywhere in the county” makes early voting the smart move. I consider those voting on Election Day to be procrastinating wafflers, who only egg on the marketers who create the political junk mail.

      • dave in texas

        The woman I talked to at the Travis County office told me this was a new thing. I had called them because their website had a discrepancy about where my precinct was supposed to vote. Maybe the Lege accidentally made it easier to vote for some reason. I voted last night at a place other than my precinct’s usual spot (and also not at the spot where the precinct mine is usually paired with votes). It was kind of weird not seeing the usual folks running the election, though.

        • Jed

          i think the counties make this call. so some counties may have switched over to allowing voting anywhere (travis county did this in 2014, too, i think) and others not.

          • Erica Grieder

            I actually watched the election returns at the SoS office on Tuesday night and this came up. Voting anywhere (in the county) on election day is still a pilot program–6 big counties (over 100,000 people) and 6 small ones (under that) can try it in each cycle, but once they try it, they can then continue with it unless there are any problems (so now there are about 34 counties where this is the case). The counties have to meet a couple of technical requirements (like, the e-slates can connect to wifi) to apply for one of the slots.

          • dave in texas

            I like the idea. This was the first time I’d voted on election day in years.

            Was this a legislative initiative? If it was, it’s certainly a departure from the usual stance of making it ever harder to vote.

          • Erica Grieder

            I can’t recall if it was a legislative initiative but I wouldn’t be surprised. For all their reputation they are sometimes responsive to this kind of concern–like, they passed voter ID, but they also passed those free election identification certificates for people who don’t have ID. And I’ve never gotten an impression that the SoS office is trying to suppress turnout. Like, one of the staff was saying that they’d fielded some questions from students recently about the fact that you can use a CHL for voter ID but not a student ID — I’ve always figured that’s because the CHL is issued by the state, and the student ID is not, but she said that for them it’s because the voter ID law lists 7 forms of ID (like, the law doesn’t say why those 7, but since it says those 7 the SoS office can’t make administrative extrapolations).

          • dave in texas

            I didn’t mean to imply the SoS could make that kind of decision; sorry if I left that impression.
            I don’t remember anything about a free election identification certificate. My impression was that you could use an official state ID (looks just like a driver license, but with a different heading at the top). Are those two the same thing? Because to get the official state ID, you have to have the same documentation as for a driver license, which means you’d have to pay the fees for a birth certificate, which is effectively a poll tax.

          • Erica Grieder

            Oh no, you didn’t imply that 🙂 I was just continuing along that line of thought because I’ve heard people express that intuition. It’s subjective, but I’ve always had the impression that the SoS office is helpful and friendly and trying to help people get registered & vote, as opposed to the opposite.

            These are the EICs–they were created in response to the concerns you mention! 🙂 (And i think there was some further activity along these lines during the 84th session, which Ken Paxton, of all people, played a helpful role in, but I can’t remember the details)

          • dave in texas

            We must have been on the dps site at exactly the same time, but it doesn’t address the concerns about requirements I mentioned above.

          • Erica Grieder

            lol, that’s kind of cute. “fancy meeting you here, dave in texas…”

          • Jed

            holy crap those machines communicate via wireless? that’s actually a requirement?

            is there any reason at all to think that all election results are not completely hacked and bogus?

    • Erica Grieder

      It’s true during early voting in all counties but it varies by county on election day.

  • roadgeek

    No on the Travis County Courthouse Bond and Yes on all the others.

    • grubber

      We agree on Prop 5, that’s something.

  • enp1955

    Prop 6 bothers me only in that I’m not sure what kind of challenges may result from it. Will the “right to hunt” be like the 2nd amendment, with court challenges on seasons, licenses, permits, limits, and all that stuff? It just seems too vague. Who will be the first to file a legal challenge to any restriction limit?

    • dave in texas

      Why worry about unintended consequences when there’s a base to appease?

    • Indiana Pearl

      This is a sop to canned hunting facilties. Real he-men want to have constitutional protection to shoot critters who can’t escape.

      • txasslm

        Precisely why I voted against it. Hunting wild boors from helicopters concerns me, too.

        • Jed

          “Hunting wild boors”

          awesome. but how can you tell who are the boors from the helicopter? do you just look for jean shorts?

          • Kozmo

            he meant to write “Boers.”

          • John Johnson

            I’m not so sure.

        • Erica Grieder

          There was also, per one of the SoS officials, a lively floor debate about it in the House, which i either missed or can’t remember–I suppose it would cover some of these concerns.

    • lemme see liberals want to have the constitution right to smoke marijuana but they don’t think I should The constitutional right to hunt and fish?.,.,.huh?

      • enp1955

        Actually, John, that’s not what I said. I said that the amendment was too vague, and therefore could be used to challenge just about anything related to hunting and fishing. As it passed, I’m sure that we will soon find out if those concerns are true or not.

        As to legalization of marijuana, in the two states where it is legal, the wording includes all sorts of conditions, restrictions, and guidelines as to implementation. I was living in Colorado at the time it was passed there, and the discussion was very much around all those elements.

        Personally, I could care less if you hunt and fish. I fish myself. But such a vaguely worded amendment could (and likely will) wind up causing court cases and expenses galore.

        • dave in texas

          Actually, John, that’s not what I said.

          Pfft. Like that matters to him.

          • and what I say matters to you? I want the right to be as obtuse as any dem….

          • dave in texas

            No. I couldn’t possibly care less about what you say. I just want to warn people who might think that you might ever present an argument in good faith or that presenting actual facts in a rebuttal to you would ever make any difference.

            I’ll give you credit for this much, though–you’ve certainly become one of the most obtuse individuals on the internet. So, congratulations?

    • Erica Grieder

      Huh, I hadn’t even thought about that. It’s always interesting to hear from people who have strong feelings about the initiatives that I haven’t been following as closely. R.G. was also bothered by Prop 6, although more on the principle that the Lege shouldn’t be wasting its scarce time on this kind of political theater, which I was tickled by intrigued by because that’s actually the reason I was fond of it–and it’s interesting that you and R.G. would both be bothered by Prop 6 but because of contrasting intuitions.

      • enp1955

        Maybe I’m just cynical, but whenever somebody wants something in the constitution where there’s no obvious need or threat, I start to wonder about ulterior motives. I hope I’m wrong.

  • vietvet3

    Prop 6 is a shameless pander to the ammosexuals. No one will ever challenge our “God-given” right to slaughter Bambi in mass quantities.

    • John Johnson

      I am not a deer hunter any longer; in fact, I don’t hunt anything anymore. This said, whitetail will overrun us if they are not hunted and culled. Most all natural predators are gone. However, canned hunts for big game should be illegal. That’s my take.

      • vietvet3

        JJ, We agree again! I have no prob with hunting. No real diff from eating a hamburger. For anything that lives, something else must die. Do you agree that the amendment is a shameless pander? Something to point to in the next primary to distract from one’s failure to govern?

        • John Johnson

          I’m still not sure why it was up for a vote. I have lost faith in the people who govern and what they find most important to address.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Big Bidness wants it enshrined in the state constitution.

    • lemme see liberals want to have the constitution right to smoke marijuana but they don’t think I should The constitutional right to hunt and fish?…..say wha….?


    The combination of Prop. 1 and Prop. 7 means that more than $6.2 billion that would otherwise be spent on public schools, health care and general govt. will not be available next session.

    Adding in the revenues lost because of the various other tax and fee cuts, and the total of General Revenue that will not be available tops $9.2 billion….
    This is the hole the Legislature is digging for itself because it insists on taking a “Scarlet O’Hara” approach to the state’s future needs…..After all, it can worry about those things tomorrow because tomorrow is another day.

    Fiscal responsibility means looking beyond the next election to what is going to face you next year and the year after. It does not mean cutting your revenues for a temporary political gain (ala Prop. 1)…..The money for highways should have come from the source the Constitution specifies—a tax on motor fuels.

    Our tax at 20 cents per gallon is one of the lowest in the US and has not been increased since 1991….In this days of lower gasoline prices a nickel or even a dime increase would have been barely noticed…but our legislatures were so afraid of the word “tax” that they chosen to raid the money that should go to schools and public health. It is a sad fact, however, that this act of LEGISATIVE COWARDICE is being rewarded at the polls today.

    Cowardice has never been an excuse or even an extenuating circumstance.

    • If we just had more money
      This is why no ever believes a democrat who says this time I’m really leaving…..

    • John Johnson

      Welcome back. I agree with your position on the gas tax. Sissy legislators, lumped together like sheep, are afraid to even suggest increasing it to pay for much needed infrastructure repairs and new roads. Surely there are a few brave souls who will use the bully pulpit, and some revived, socially responsible newspapers and corporations, who will join in to broadcast and sell the public on the merits of doing so.

      • Have you been to a government office lately? You may find most employees asleep if not off on vacation, comp time or some obscure holiday.

        As an election judge I am not surprised to find my bilingual worker(whom we have never needed) is a government employee who is being paid by the county and by elections to work the same hours.

        “1. The National Institute of Health’s Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine spent$387,000 to study the effects of Swedish massages on rabbits.”


        MeNDan cut cut cut.

        • John Johnson

          I’m all for getting rid of goofy studies, closing a bunch of overseas bases, finding out why we spent $43M to build an all but unused NG filling station in Afghanistan, etc. you and Dan get after it…but quit denying services to disabled children, and stop the bragging about the property tax cut which means little or nothing to the individual property owners, but a lot to the school system.

          • Studies show the elite liberal education system had little do to earnings after grad it depends on the student’s merit. We could cut school funding by 50% and it would have little impact except on the liberal’s excessive retirement packages.

          • John Johnson

            I agree that we are not getting bang for the buck, but how about coming up with an alternate plan before yanking the money?

          • why not let yanking the money drive the need for an alternative plan? What if we turn off the flow and there’s no need….just a perceived need?

          • Indiana Pearl

            Check out Brownback’s Kansas, Walker’s Wisconsin, or Christie’s NJ . . . Or move to Somalia.

          • nope I was here first you liberals move

          • Indiana Pearl

            The native tribes were here first. YOU move!

          • a war settled that years ago…learn our history.
            Now if you want me to move let’s have a Texas Cage Death Match loser moves.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Justice first! The Civil War?

          • Indiana Pearl

            I can outrun you. Fat people lose. Start packing!

          • Indiana Pearl

            Which war? The Civil War?

          • Beerman

            Instead of yanking the money, the present crew in charge will just re-direct the funds to ridiculous multi-million dollar bonuses for select privileged State employees, family members and cronies. The TP cult is having an orgasm with the State piggy-bank.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Why get an education if the Rapture is coming? Because education pays off:


          • Indiana Pearl
      • Erica Grieder

        Transportation is an interesting issue because the controversial issues are invariously substantive, which is not the case for anything else that comes to mind offhand. In this case: I understand your reasoning on the gas tax but I’ve come to be skeptical of it because 1) improvements in vehicle efficiency mean that we can’t plan on it being a revenue source with a linear connection to the public sector function it’s meant to support (and if the Lege is gonna go through all the political hurdles required to raise taxes, it seems like they might as well focus on one that isn’t gonna have diminishing returns). 2) It’s regressive and volatile, like all sales taxes, but even more than most because low-income texans are likely to have less-efficient cars, therefore requiring more gas, and the amount of gas sold is actually quite responsive to the price at the pump, so fluctuations in gas prices would create corresponding unpredictability in the revenue streams. If we’re going to expand revenue streams, I’d focus on a tax or fee connected to mileage, because that has the ‘fairness’ and logic use fee–whether you’re driving a beater or a hybrid, you’re using the roads, and if collections decline because people are driving less, it’ll also be the case that we need less road maintenance.

        • John Johnson

          Good points. Sounds like a very good alternative to me. Who’s going to promote it without being pilloried?

          • WUSRPH

            If you can figure out how to make a mileage tax work let me know. I know a number of people who have tried. The advantage of the current gasoline tax is that it is a consistent revenue stream coming in year around. It also has to be paid only a little at a time. However, it is very hard to imagine how you could collect a mileage tax at the pump. It is more likely that a mileage taxes would have to be yearly (or maybe a quarterly) by having to file some report of the mileage driven. That would make it a lot bigger payment, especially for lower income taxpayers. You figure it out and I am certain I know a member of two who would sponsor it.

          • John Johnson

            That’s a good point, too. No one likes big checks at the end of the year. Pose that one to Erica.

    • Beerman


      Your review of situation is very on target regarding Props 1 and 7. The majority of responsible business people realize that a tax on motor fuels is long overdue. And, that effective public services and infrastructure makes our State strong. With the privilege of doing business in Texas comes the responsibility to pay taxes that support the infrastructure that business depends on.

      The politicians leading our State seem to only be interested in religion and self-enrichment. Not governing the needs of the populace.

      • Erica Grieder

        I also understand your and WUSRPH’s reasoning on Prop 7 but here’s another thing I liked about it, which may be a silver lining for those of us who were dismayed by Prop 1’s passage: the more money we dedicate to roads, the less there is available for people who want to do MORE property tax relief next session without any corresponding revenue expansions or spending cuts.

        • Beerman

          EG, the legislative leaders in Texas are creating a future long-term budget problem with their cut-cut-cut mentality. Texas education and infrastructure needs should be supported with investments from taxes dedicated exclusively to those particular needs and not be at the mercy of general fund manipulation. Taxes are the price of civilization and history has proven that point many times over the years.

          Patrick and his crew’s budget maneuvers have only one goal in mind, and that is to privatize education and roads for profit, to enrich themselves and their cronies. They have little desire to provide the basic services needed for long-term economic success in Texas.

          • Indiana Pearl

            The GOP never met a public fund it didn’t want to “privatize.”

  • General Grant

    Does Prop 6 give me the right for hunt for pigeons on Westheimer (or South Congress, etc.) during rush hour? Under the horrible way it’s written I could argue that it does. Prop. 3 is a terrible match with the new rules requiring statewide officials face ethics prosecutions in their home counties….now they can literally forum shop.

    • lemme see liberals want to have the constitution right to smoke marijuana but they don’t think I should have the constitutional right to hunt and fish?

      • General Grant

        My only point is that poorly drafted constitutional rights can have unintended consequences.

  • Sanctuary City Sheriff Fired…

    “Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi convincingly lost his bid for re-election Tuesday after spending months in the national spotlight as the face of his city’s controversial “sanctuary city” policy on illegal immigration.”


    Liberals/progressives/socialists rejected by majority in 2016 election prediction


    My last comment of the amendments—until, that is, folks in the Leg. start complaining about the $9.2 billion revenue shortfall they created for themselves:

    As a wise old legislator once put it:

    “It is easy to be pure when you do not have to go home and explain your vote.”

    P.S. The $1.3 billion WILL count against the spending limit. The $5 billion for highways will not because the funding is constitutionally dedicated.


    Attention Erica:

    While you are thinking about Tuesday’s election results give this little item from a QR story on an interview with Appropriations Chair Otto a tiny bit of

    “Texas may be looking at $4.4 billion in excess revenue right now, but $3.7 billion of that total is in dedicated funds, Otto said. That means the real discretionary funding on the table right now is in the range of $700 million in general revenue.”

    Some of that $9.2 billion in General Revenue the Leg. used up or gave away might just have come in handy.

    Tough session coming? But you will have to really get a very, very powerful amplifier to hear anyone running for office—or the Gov. and company–mention it until after November of next year.

    • Erica Grieder

      It’s a grim state of affairs, my friend, but maybe a tough revenue outlook in 2017 is better, in the long run, than another flush forecast that emboldens the people with ambitious spending plans 😉

      • WUSRPH

        But those “ambitious spending plans” may be to fund a constitutional school finance system. The original estimates of the full cost of all the fixes Dietz called for was $4 billion to $6 billion per year. The $9.2 million in revenue loses and dedicated expenditures they past this year could have gone a long way towards meeting that cost.

  • But but but its UT….

    “The Economist’s criteria is born from a 13-year-old academic paper from Harvard and MIT, which found that elite education had little impact on students who entered college already accomplished and hardworking.

    To “disentangle student merit from university contributions” and evaluate what it believes is the true economic value of a university, the Economist focuses its rankings on the gap between actual alumni earnings and earnings expected.”


    “elite education had little impact on earnings” duh…..

  • Veterans day is Nov 11th. Remember President Obama’s promise to American’s vets?

    “In 2010, the White House and VA issued a plan to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Together with partners nationwide, VA launched the End Veteran Homelessness initiative, an unprecedented effort to make sure Veterans are able to obtain permanent housing and that Veterans at risk of homelessness remain housed.”


    yeah…welp he lied. The VA is still in shambles run by mindless bureaucrats, underfunded and without leadership.
    Instead democrats are pushing a program to buy votes called ban the box. The ban the box democrat program puts felons on equal footing with veterans for jobs. What’s next democrats making it illegal to state you’re a vet during a job interview?

    When did democrats become so anti-veteran?
    Clean up the VA!

  • Dead people vote?

    “They have turned in roughly 530 voter registrations, of which five of them were dead people,” said Johnson. “They actually had the dead people’s drivers license numbers and Social Security numbers, and of course they forged the signatures of these dead people.”

    “Elias is described as a “fixer” for the Democrats and he certainly has a history of that. Lest you think this pesky Ohio detail is an aberration, you’ll find Marc’s name attached to some other high profile cases. For just one example, back in 2010 he was involved in the contentious Minnesota gubernatorial election when the close race went into a recount. At the time it had been noted that in certain precincts there were more votes cast than the total number of people who showed up and signed in to vote. One estimate placed the number of “overage” votes at roughly 12,000 which was greater than the margin of victory claimed by the Democrat, Mark Dayton.”


    of course he works for grandma.

  • Can a capitalist make too much money? I want the right to make as much money as Bill and Hillary have looted….

    “f you want to do business in Venezuela, you will have to let the government do your bookkeeping to make sure you aren’t making too much. Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s decree, called the “Organic Law of Fair Prices,” sets a maximum “fair” profit at 30 percent of costs.”


    socialist want to control much profits you can make……geeez.

  • Not only have dems not won a statewide election in Texas in more than 20 years they are on a losing streak nationwide. Thanks Obama


    I have been–and will continue to–doing my posting over on Discus. One thing I notice over there is that there are moderators for the threads and if you go way off the subject (see Troll’s entries below), they warn you and then start taking it off. But there is no moderator for this…P.S. Not denying that I went off subject a bit….but he’s the all-time champ. Or is that chump?

    • Indiana Pearl

      Disqus or Squid?

      • WUSRPH

        I get to it thru Discus but I guess it is Squid.

        • Indiana Pearl

          Wise move. That’s what I usually do.

          • so why are we having to suffer through the comments here?

          • Indiana Pearl

            Because it annoys you . . .

          • no I anny dems….you entertain me.

          • Indiana Pearl

            “I anny dems?”

        • Indiana Pearl

          Check out nymag.com – Frank Rich, Jonathan Chait, and Margaret Hartman – some trolls, but they’re intelligent.

          Also check out the Fodorite Lounge at fodors.com – scrupulous monitoring of the site both by editors and readers – also intelligent commenters.

    • no you’re posting here….and sulking like a 3 year old.


    Speaking about off the thread:

    There was an interesting article in the New Republic about the move to have the government, in effect, pay for climate change prevention measures taken by private companies.


    Remember the big Superfund program to clean up abandoned industrial sites, etc. that was supposed to be paid for by fines levied on the polluters but wound up basically being financed by the taxpayers? Well, get ready for version two—this time covering the cost of dealing with climate change.

    Maybe the Legislature can give corporations a tax break (including on property taxes) if they take steps to combat it? The GOPers who say it isn’t happening and/or man has nothing to do with it, could love a give-away like that.


    If you have doubts about climate change you should read that article in the New Republic.


    The insurance companies —the people who make their living by predicting events and selling insurance to protect from the effects—do not share your disbelief. One major firm started trying to predict climate change impacts back in 1974 so that it could gauge the risks it faced by insuring some areas and some industries. Others have joined the effort since then. They are acting now to protect themselves later.

  • Who will make the best VP for Sen Cruz? Guv Perry, Sen Rubio or Dr Carlson?


    I have to hand it to Sen Cruz he ran a beautiful strategy.