The poor old Texas Constitution – it’s got more holes in it than Rush Limbaugh’s logic. But the idea of replacing it with an entirely new document that makes some sense scares voters so badly that legislators are reduced to trying to paper over its problems, biennial session after biennial session, with amendments. Frequently, the amendments end up causing their own problems, and so we get another round and another. It’s like living in a house made of papier-mache, in which lobbyists of various stripes keep trying to light a torch.
Which brings us to Nov. 3 – or, more correctly, to today, since early voting on this year’s 11 amendments has already started. It’s proper that it’s all taking place around Halloween, because some of this stuff is truly scary. The biggest problem, of course, is that voters won’t really be able to know what’s being done just by reading the ballot propositions. Maybe not even if you study up beforehand.
Two of them, however, appear to be particular stinkers, and both hide nefariousness behind the placard of reform. Proposition 3 – one of several dealing with property appraisals – says it would provide “uniform standards and procedures” for property tax appraisals. What could really happen, according to one independent voters group: Instead of being able to go down to your local appraisal office to gripe about the value put on your Home Sweet Hovel for tax purposes, you might have to travel to some consolidated regional office that could be several counties away. The process of contesting an appraisal is already guaranteed to raise your blood pressure – now imagine having to drive several hundred miles to make your case to people who might never have set foot in your county. Umm … naaaaah.
Then there’s Proposition 11. First off, you have to be leery of eminent domain “reform” that’s been approved by Rick Perry, the governor of, by, and for the have-mores, the guy who vetoed a much better attempt at fixing the eminent domain process two years ago. This one supposedly puts more limits on the use of eminent domain for the taking of other people’s property for allegedly public uses. But somehow the folks who wrote this amendment managed to leave out things we already have, like a requirement for “good faith negotiations” in determining what compensation should be paid to the landowner. Oops. Even many of its supporters say Proposition 11 is flawed. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison called it “a good first step” toward protecting property rights. Why enshrine a “first step” in the Constitution – especially when it may be a step backward? Once again, Static says, get the hook.
Gosh, an entire column advising people to say no. That felt good, in a snarly sort of way.