Texas Land Title Disputes, Proposition 17 (2001)
The Texas Land Title Disputes Amendment, also known as Proposition 17, was on the November 6, 2001 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure provided for the release of the state's interest in land, excluding mineral rights, under certain conditions.
|Texas Proposition 17 (2001)|
Election results via: Legislative Reference Library of Texas
Text of measure
The ballot title voters saw on their ballot read as:
|“||The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to settle land title disputes between the state and a private party.||”|
The full text of the measure can be read here.
Proposition 17 added Section 2b of Article 7 of the Texas Constitution.
The state government provided an explanation of Proposition 17 which read as follows:
|“||If sovereign land is sold or disposed of to private persons without a
patent issued from the state or the Republic of Texas conveying the legal title, the legal title to the land remains vested with the sovereign entity. Under the Texas Constitution, land that is not included in a patented survey or dedicated for another purpose is dedicated to the permanent school fund. A person may not receive a patent on land dedicated to the fund unless the General Land Office and the School Land Board, which manage the fund for the benefit of educational programs, receive fair market value for the land. In numerous cases, inaccurate surveys or dishonest sellers have caused persons to purchase or occupy land dedicated to the fund. In the absence of a constitutional amendment to release the state’s claim to the land, the only way to clear title to the land purchased or otherwise obtained in good faith but later discovered to be dedicated to the fund is to purchase the land from the state at the fair market value.
In 1981, 1991, and 1993, voters approved constitutional amendments that remedied title defects for certain landowners in certain areas of the state. Those amendments allowed the General Land Office to issue patents to qualified applicants whose land titles were defective. A similar amendment to clear title to certain land in Bastrop County is proposed on the same ballot on which this proposed amendment will appear. The amendment proposed here would eliminate the need for the Bastrop County amendment and other constitutional amendments in many similar situations by allowing the legislature to clear title to certain permanent school fund land by releasing the state’s interest, other than a mineral interest, in the land. Enabling legislation that will take effect only on passage of this proposed amendment would allow the General Land Office to consider whether an application for a patent on a tract of land meets the criteria established in this proposed amendment and, if the School Land Board unanimously approves the release of the state’s interest, would allow the board to approve the tract for a patent that releases all or part of the state’s interest in the tract, other than a mineral interest.
The proposed amendment and the enabling legislation would allow the state’s interest in permanent school fund land to be released only if the land is held by a person under color of title for which a patent may not be obtained under law in effect before January 1, 2002. The person holding the land under color of title must also hold the land under a chain of title that originated on or before January 1, 1952, must have acquired the land without actual knowledge that title to the land was vested in the state, and must have a deed to the land recorded in the appropriate county. In addition, the person must have paid all taxes assessed on the land and any interest and penalties associated with a period of tax delinquency. The state’s interest in beach land, submerged or filled land, islands, or land that has been determined to be state-owned by judicial decree may not be released under the proposed amendment or the enabling legislation, and the proposed amendment and the enabling legislation may not be used to resolve boundary disputes or change the mineral reservation in an existing patent. 
Path to the ballot
- See also: Laws governing direct democracy in Texas
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.
- Texas 2001 ballot measures
- 2001 ballot measures
- List of Texas ballot measures
- History of direct democracy in Texas
- Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional amendment election dates," accessed January 14, 2015
- Texas Legislative Council, "Amendments to the Texas Constitution Since 1876," accessed January 14, 2015
- Texas Legislative Council, "Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments: November 6, 2001, Election," September 2001
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
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