El Paso County, Texas Parks and Recreational Provision Amendment, Proposition 7 (2011)

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Proposition 7
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Texas Legislature
Topic:Admin of gov't
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
The Texas Parks and Recreational Provision Amendment appeared on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in the state of Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. Defeatedd

The measure proposed "provision of parks and recreational facilities by conservation and reclamation of districts in El Paso County."[1]

The author of the measure was Jose R. Rodriguez, and the formal title of the bill was Senate Joint Resolution 28.

Election results

See also: 2011 ballot measure election results
Texas Proposition 7
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No337,76651.69%
Yes 315,634 48.3%

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The ballot text read:

"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities."[2]

Constitutional changes

See also: Texas Proposition 7 (2011), constitutional text changes

Proposition 7 would have amended Section 59 (c-1) of Article 16 of the Texas Constitution.

Fiscal note

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a fiscal note about SJR 28 to the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations on March 28, 2011.[3]

According to the fiscal note:

  • "No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated, other than the cost of publication."
  • "The cost to the state for publication of the resolution is $105,495."
  • "No fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated."[3]

Support

Supporters

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Arguments

Supporters said:

  • A park system would be a great benefit to the citizens of El Paso, both in terms of improving the quality of life for current citizens and to attract and retain the type of human capital needed to fuel the economy. This amendment would be an important step in making that goal a reality.[4]
  • Passing this amendment would allow El Paso citizens to begin a conversation over creating a parks district. The amendment would not create a parks district or grant El Paso additional taxing authority; it would only place El Paso on the list of counties that could be authorized by the legislature to create a parks district.[4]
  • Nanette Smejkal, Parks and Recreation Director for the city of El Paso, said the reason behind creating a district was to create “a singular focus on parks and recreation” so parks didn't get overlooked or under-prioritized in the midst of other local government issues. Passing Proposition 7 would have allowed the creation of such a district in the future.[5]

Donors

According to the state campaign finance database, there were no registered committees (PACs).

(last updated December 2011)

Opposition

Arguments

  • While this amendment would not grant additional taxing authority, it is the first step down a path that would end up in additional taxes for the citizens of El Paso if the district is eventually passed. Given the down economy, local officials should not undertake any actions that could eventually add more tax burden on already struggling citizens.[4]
  • This amendment has been put forth as a way to start a discussion regarding developing a parks district. Amending the state's constitution before the citizens have even decided they want a parks district is putting the cart before the horse. "Discussion should precede action, not the other way around."[4]
  • We Texans, a limited-government and economic freedom advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 7. In an October 19, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "The proposal would create yet another government entity with the power to levy a property tax. Cities and counties already have the ability to fund parks and recreational facilities and to incur debt with the approval of local citizens. Creating special purpose districts such as this one further complicates local government and hampers the ability of citizens to understand their associated tax burdens."[6]
  • Empower Texans, a limited-government advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 7. In an October 7, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "State and local governments should be moving away from the property tax system, not looking to expand dependence on it."[7]
  • Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative and pro-family advocacy organization, opposed Proposition 7. In an October 7th, 2011 post they explained their reasoning: "This would create another opportunity to tax residents in a property poor county. Even though this must be approved by county voters, good or bad, most bond elections pass because voter turnout is so low."[8]

Donors

According to the state campaign finance database, there were no registered committees (PACs).

(last updated December 2011)

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2011

Support

  • The Lufkin News said, "This amendment would allow the city and the county to work together to develop their parks. As the case in the other counties already specified, voters will always have the final say. We are all for local folks making local decisions. For that reason we recommend a vote for Proposition 7."[9]
  • The San Antonio Express-News said,"Texas voters would not be creating the district by approving the amendment, but instead would be authorizing El Paso voters to create the district. El Paso voters deserve an equal opportunity to invest in their community's amenities. We encourage Texans to cast ballots for the amendment and give El Paso residents the ability to create the district if they choose."[10]
  • The Dallas Morning News said, "It’s an eccentricity of the Texas Constitution that, in many cases, voters in all 254 counties must weigh in on the apparent business of one...The amendment would not impose a new tax on El Paso County residents, only give them the ability to decide whether to impose one on themselves. "[11]
  • The Austin Chronicle said,"Why are we voting on this? This practice is already allowed in numerous (though not all) counties, and the specific enabling legislation hasn't been passed yet in this case – El Paso County will still have to work on that. One of the sillier aspects of the state constitution, but we shouldn't block for El Paso what it can determine for itself."[12]
  • The Corpus Christi Caller-Times said, "The Caller-Times Editorial Board recommends approval of all 10, and urges that all registered voters exercise their right to vote."[13]
  • The Burka Blog, written by senior editor for the Texas Monthly Paul Burka, supported Proposition 7. In an October 18, 2011 post he stated "If local voters are willing to tax themselves, that’s their business."[14]
  • The El Paso Times said, "It's important to note that passage of this proposition would not in itself raise taxes. It would merely give El Paso voters the chance to vote on a city-county taxing district, which in turn would allow the Legislature to authorize this district to issue bonds. That's where the taxation would come in, so it's a long way off. Does El Paso need a dedicated parks district? The early answer seems to be yes, and should be the subject of serious discussion, particularly because it would include the creation of yet another taxing entity."[15]
  • The Statesman said, "Ten proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution are on the ballot for your approval or disapproval. We recommend you vote for all 10."[16]
  • The Star-Telegram supports Prop 7.[17]

Opposition

  • The Conroe Courier of Montgomery County opposed Prop 7: In a October 22, 2011 editorial the Conroe Courier of Montgomery County opposed Proposition 7 stating that "Proposition 7 would authorize the Legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by property taxes to fund development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities...Statewide, in this economic environment, voters do not need to pass constitutional amendments that would create more entities that could add to the tax burden of local residents. Vote no on Proposition 7."[18]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

The measure was passed by the Texas State Legislature on May 26, 2011, and was filed with the Texas Secretary of State May 27, 2011. SJR 26 passed the Texas State Senate by a vote of 30-1[19] and passed the Texas House by a vote of 144-0.[20]

As laid out in Article 17 of the Texas Constitution, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate. SJR 4 was passed the Texas State Senate by a vote of 29-2.[21]

Timeline

Calendar.png

The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
House vote May 26, 2011 House voted 144-0 in favor of the proposed measure
Senate vote May 26, 2011 Senate voted 30-1 in favor of the proposed measure
Certified May 27, 2011 Measure received by the Secretary of State for the 2011 ballot

See also

By Jimmy Ardis
Texas state writer

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Articles

External links

References

  1. Texas Legislature, "SJR 28," accessed May 31, 2011
  2. Texas Secretary of State, "Explanatory Statements for the November 8, 2011 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election" (dead link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fiscal Note on SRJ 28 prepared by the Texas Legislative Budget Board (timed out)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 [*Texas House Research Organization: "Focus Report for Amendments Proposed in November 8, 2011 Election," July 20, 2011
  5. Conroe Courier, "Prop 7 will allow El Paso to create a parks district," October 22, 2011
  6. We Texans," "PROPOSITIONS VOTERS’ GUIDE: Just Say No," October 19, 2011
  7. Empower Texans," "2011 Constitutional Amendments," October 7, 2011
  8. Texas Eagle Forum, "Analysis of Propositions on November 8th 2011 Ballot," October 7, 2011 (dead link)
  9. The Lufkin Daily News, "EDITORIAL: A review and our recommendations on 5 amendments to our state constitution," October 26, 2011
  10. San Antonio Express-News, "Give El Paso voters the power to finance parks," October 18, 2011
  11. Dallas Morning News, "Editorial: We recommend a yes vote on Prop 7," October 18, 2011
  12. Austin Chronicle,"'Chronicle' Endorsements and Election Info," October 21, 2011
  13. Caller-Times, "10 unexciting but worthwhile reasons to vote," October 24, 2011
  14. Burka Blog, "The proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 18, 2011
  15. El Paso Times, "Propositions: No. 7 affects only El Paso," October 23, 2011
  16. Statesman, "Voters, approve all 10 constitutional changes," November 1, 2011
  17. Star-Telegram, "Texas Constitution needs more attention," November 6, 2011
  18. Conroe Courier of Montgomery County, "Vote against Props 7 and 8 on Nov. 8 ballot," October 22, 2011 (timed out)
  19. Senate Journal May 31, 2011
  20. House Journal May 24, 2011
  21. Texas Senate Journal: 82nd Legislature, April 28, 2011