State and local issues on election ballot

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Cancer research, Cumby school facilities to appear on ballots

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Early Voting

Early voting for Texans started Monday, Oct. 21. There are 10 proposed amendments to the state constitution and, depending on where in Hopkins County, several local issues on which citizens can take a stand. Early voting ran through Nov. 1, and regular voting is Nov. 5. Analysis on state issues is gathered from the House Research Organization. Analysis on local issues is gathered by News-Telegram reporting. For your information, issues are presented here:

PROPOSITION 1

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.”

What it actually means: A municipal judge is the person that presides over city ordinance violations (such as tall grass or skateboarding in commercial zones) and some misdemeanor criminal cases. This amendment would make it possible for these judges to serve more than one municipality at a time. Some in small, rural towns argue that it is difficult to find qualified candidates, and at this time, 95% of municipal judges would be eligible to serve more than one municipality. Critics say it’s another way for those who hold office to get another paid public job.

PROPOSITION 2

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”

What it actually means: This will allow the TWDB to issue a bond to fund wastewater systems in areas where the median income is at or below 75% of the state median income. At $59,206 statewide, Hopkins, Delta, Wood and Hunt Counties all qualify for this rate. Supporters say it would produce essential financing to areas that desperately need wastewater facilities. Critics say it would increase the size of government and the revenue should come from other sources.

PROPOSITION 3

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.”

What it actually means:

The legislature can create a tax to help those in disaster-declared areas. Supporters say it’s an easier method to disperse disaster relief funds than what currently exists. Critics say it deprives local governments of using their discretion about managing their own disaster funds and puts power into the hands of the state government. Other critics say it doesn’t go far enough to mitigate disasters. Hopkins County is currently working with FEMA (a federal agency) and the Ark-Tex Council of Governments (a regional agency) to disperse funding to fix roads due to a declared emergency stemming from heavy rains last fall.

PROPOSITION 4

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.”

What it actually means: This adds extra steps for the legislature to enact personal income tax, requiring legislators to pass the tax by two thirds of both the House and Senate and a majority of voters. Supporters say this will keep Texas business-friendly and focused on individual liberties. Critics say this proposition is unnecessary, as Texas already requires a personal income tax to be passed by a majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate and a referendum of voters statewide.

PROPOSITION 5

How it appears on the ballot: “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.”

What it actually means: This proposition earmarks the money created via sporting goods sales tax to go towards Texas Parks and Wildlife, which was intended when the tax was created in 1993. Supporters say it’s a protected source of revenue for conservation and environment. Critics say that by specifically earmarking this fund, legislator’s hands are tied if they ever need the funds for something else.

PROPOSITION 6

How it appears on the ballot: “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.”

What it actually means: This proposition would allow the legislation to double the amount of bonds it can issue for the CPRIT to $6 billion. Supporters say it’s important for the cancer research group to gain funding to be able to maintain their level of activity. Critics say funding cancer research is not deemed an essential action of state government.

PROPOSITION 7

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.”

What it actually means: This would allow the General Land Office and the State Board of Education to double the amount they can provide the Available School Fund each year. The Available School Fund provides classroom materials to schools. Supporters say this will help improve school performance and give schools more funding flexibility. Critics say there is no assurance this will improve education outcomes, and the state should be more frugal when it comes to school funding.

PROPOSITION 8

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation and flood control projects.”

What it actually means: This will create a fund that the Texas Water Development Board can use to fund projects following declared disasters. Supporters say this fund will help foster cooperation among regions and stakeholders after a disaster and create resiliency after flood events. Critics say other funds, such as federal, state and local, are available to help after declared flooding disasters.

PROPOSITION 9

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metals depository located in this state.”

What it actually means: State-held precious metals would be exempt from tax, such as gold in vaults, silver coins, etc. Supporters say this puts Texas on even footing with other states who do not tax their state-held precious metals and allow them to appreciate at a similar rate. Critics say the state should not create more property tax exemptions nor should exemptions be used to incentivise specific economic behavior such as the buying and selling of precious metals.

PROPOSITION 10

How it appears on the ballot: “The constitutional amendment to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.”

What it actually means: Former handlers or qualified caretakers would be allowed to adopt law enforcement animals (mostly canines) without a fee. Supporters say this common and humane practice gives these animals a loving home. Critics say since the fee is nominal now, this piece of legislation is not needed.

Hopkins County has three active duty law enforcement animals: Officer Cleve “Buddy” Williams and Kilo of SSPD; Deputy Colt Patterson and Chiv of HCSO; and Deputy Jason Lavender and Mali of HCSO.

SULPHUR SPRINGS PROPOSITION A

How it appears on the ballot: Authorizing the Sulphur Springs Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation to use the income of its current half of 1% of sales and use taxes, including any amount previously collected and amounts to be collected in the future up to $ 200,000.00 per year for 20 years, for the purposes of construction and maintenance of specific categories of projects that qualify under Section 505.152 of the Texas Local Government Code, including the buildings, equipment, facilities and improvements required or appropriate for use by the Department of Sulfur Springs Parks in the Sulphur Springs Pacific Park Parks Department and the Sulfur Senior Activities Center of the Springs Parks Department, all as permitted by Section 504.152 of the Texas Local Government Code.

What it actually means: The City of Sulphur Springs will borrow money from the Sulphur Springs Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation at the rate of $200,000 per year over the next 20 years to construct a new Pacific Park and Senior Activities Center. Supporters say it’s high time the park and senior center received some TLC and will be enjoyed by many. Critics say the money was intended for the EDC to bring in new business and should be used for such.

CUMBY ISD BOND “PROPOSITION A”

How it appears on the ballot: The issuance of $6.2 million of bonds for the construction, renovation, improvement and equipment of school buildings in the district and athletic facilities and associated improvements; and the levying of a tax sufficient without limit as to rate or amount, to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds and to pay the costs of any credit agreements executed or authorized in anticipation of, in relation to or in connection with the bonds.

What it actually means: Cumby ISD will be authorized to levy their portion of the tax base to fund $6.2 million in improvements to the school buildings and athletic facilities. Supporters say the school could use an update to the facilities as the town’s population and need continues to grow. Critics have expressed that $6.2 million will not go far enough to update the campus, especially when it comes to safety and security measures.

CUMBY MAYORAL ELECTION

Doug Simmerman- Current Cumby mayor pro-tempore has lived in Cumby for 27 years and served on the city council for the past six years. Running for mayor is “Definitely not an ambition of mine but more of a calling,” Simmer-man said. “I am dedicated in doing the right thing for the City of Cumby. We have many great projects in progress with more to come for city improvement.”

Ryan Horne- Challenger for the mayoral spot, Horne has lived in Cumby for three years and this is his first time seeking office. “For too long things have been status quo in our town, and it is time for change,” Horne said. “I want to repair and strengthen the relationship between community members and our city officials. I plan to do this by being transparent and communicating honestly.”