Filing deadline passes with 175 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution

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March 31, 2011


By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN, Texas: March 11th marked deadline for legislators filing bills in Texas's 82nd session.[1] Approximately 5,500 bills have been filed, a 26% decrease from the 7,400 bills introduced from the 81st session.[2] Of those 5,500 pieces of legislation, approximately 175 are proposed amendments (introduced via joint resolution) to the Texas Constitution that have the potential to appear before voters on the ballot in the November 2011 election.[3] For a constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot, a joint resolution must pass in both the State House and the State Senate by two-thirds vote.

Of the approximately 175 joint resolutions proposing amendments that have been introduced in either the House or the Senate, only a fraction will actually make it to the ballot. For comparison, 11 amendments went before voters during the 81st legislative session in 2009. The 80th session in 2007 saw 16 amendments make it to the ballot. While only a fraction of the amendments that get introduced in the Texas Legislature pass both chambers and make their way to voters, once an amendment makes it on the ballot the chances it will pass are extremely high. Since 2001 Texans have voted on 78 amendments and all 78 have passed. Taking another step back and including the previous decade, 144 (an average of 14.4 per year) amendments made it on the ballot in Texas from 1991 to present and 121 have passed - an 84.03% success rate.[4]

Among the highly watched potential amendments that could appear on the Texas ballot this year are the English Language Amendment which would make English the official language of the state, and the "Sharia Law Amendment" which would prevent a Texas court "from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or cultural law."[5] Texas's "Sharia Law Amendment" is similar to the controversial Oklahoma Sharia Law Amendment that passed last year.

The Texas Legislature adjourns May 31st and Texans will then know just how many constitutional amendments they will have to vote on come November.

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