Texas Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal Standards Amendment, Proposition 3 (2009)

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Texas Constitution
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Texas Proposition 3, also known as House Joint Resolution 36-3, appeared on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Tommy Williams and Dan Patrick, establishes procedures for "ad valorem tax purposes." The bill, authored by Representatives John Otto, Ryan Guillen and Patrick Rose, will allow ad valorem tax procedures to be enforced by general, uniform law.

Election results

Texas Proposition 3
Approveda Yes 689,158 65.54%

Text of measure

The short ballot summary Texas voters saw on their ballot was "The constitutional amendment providing for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes."[1]

Constitutional changes

See also: Amending the Texas Constitution

According to the enrolled version of HJR 36-3, amends Section 23(b) of Article 8 to read as follows:

(b)Administrative and judicial enforcement of uniform standards and procedures for appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes shall be prescribed by general law.

Section 23(b) previousy reads:

(b) Administrative and judicial enforcement of uniform standards and procedures for appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes, as prescribed by general law, shall originate in the county where the tax is imposed, except that the legislature may provide by general law for political subdivisions with boundaries extending outside the county.



Senator Tommy Williams, was a sponsor of the amendment and stated his support for the measure, arguing that the measure paves the way for a uniform procedure of appraising methods “in the interests of more equitable appraisals in all areas.” Supporters also argue that, "Unfortunately, the proposition has been plagued by Internet rumors that it is a back-door method to introduce a statewide property tax," as stated in the Houston Chronicle.[2]

State Representative Allen Vaught addressed concerns he received through emails that if Proposition 2 is passed, they would expand statewide property tax. Vaught explained to the public that this information was untrue and that the constitution prohibits the state government from assessing property taxes. Vaught also stated that the passage of Proposition 2, and 3, would not eliminate this constitutional restriction. Vaught stated: "I would encourage everyone to research each of the 11 Propositions on the Nov. 3 ballot in order to make an informed decision when voting."[3]

The National Taxpayers Union supported Proposition 3 because the group argues that by making appraisal standards more uniform across the state, this measure would protect taxpayers from variable tax laws in neighboring jurisdictions. NTU gave it a positive rating in their 2009 General Election Ballot Guide. (dead link)


In a discussion held in Tyler County, Texas, and sponsored by both Tyler and Smith counties, Senator Kevin Eltife discussed and answered questions about the eleven proposed constitutional amendments, particularly the state’s role in the appraisal system. In the discussion, Smith County Chief Appraiser Michael Barnett stated his position on the amendment, saying that Proposition 3 would add improved statewide standards in the administration of appraisals. Also included in his reasons for support is the government transparency the amendment would provide and the expansion of oversight by the state. Eltife agreed, stating: "There are 254 counties in the state that (make valuations) 254 different ways. This addresses what I think is the biggest problem in the appraisal system."[4]



According to reports, opponents of Proposition 3 argued that if passed the state will have the ability to impose a state property tax, reduce the control held by local entities and increase the power of the state.[5]

Other arguments included:[6]

  • the legislature would have a blank slate to adopt standards that have not yet been disclosed
  • "A vote for Proposition 3 is a blind-faith vote in the ability of lawmakers in Austin, under pressure from special interests, to craft a better system than local control."
  • officials already have a way to enforce standards at the state level

Campaign contributions

No committees or contributions to campaigns relating to Proposition 3 were reported.[7]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2009

Editorial boards in support

  • The El Paso Times supported of Proposition 3. They argue that Proposition 3 "would help partially reform the out-of-control residential appraisal system. In particular, Proposition 3 would establish uniform appraisal standards statewide.[8]
  • The Houston Chronicle endorsed Proposition 3, stating: "This is pretty straightforward stuff. The constitutional amendment that would come out of Proposition 3 was deemed necessary by lawmakers after state officials monitoring the appraisal system statewide noticed there were significant differences in the methodology used for appraisals in different appraisal districts. Making things uniform is intended to achieve simple fairness in the way folks' taxes are determined."[9]
  • The Austin Chronicle supported of the proposition. "If constitutional authorization is needed for uniform standards, the government's doing it wrong," they said.[10]

Editorial boards opposed

  • The Star-Telegram opposed to Proposition 3. In an editorial they described the measure as the “Big Government Amendment.” Additionally, the publication states that the measure accuses county-based central appraisal districts of doing a sub-par job and that the state legislature should take over the duties. However, the editorial cited an opposition to a government takeover, stating: “The state has a way to correct inequities in local property tax appraisals. The comptroller’s office conducted a property value study every year to ensure equitable state aid to school districts. Appraisal districts that are out of line have to correct their numbers. That’s all the orders from Austin that local folks need.”[11][12]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives approved of the proposed amendment on April 27, 2009 with a vote of 143-0, followed by the State Senate on May 26, 2009 with a vote of 31-0.[13]

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.

See also

External links

Additional reading

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