Texas Property Appraisal, Proposition 3 (2009)

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The Texas Property Appraisal Amendment, also known as Proposition 3, was 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, established procedures for "ad valorem tax purposes." The bill, authored by Representatives John Otto, Ryan Guillen and Patrick Rose, allowed ad valorem tax procedures to be enforced by general, uniform law.[1][2]

Election results

Texas Proposition 3 (2009)
Approveda Yes 691,294 65.53%

Election results via: Legislative Reference Library of Texas

Text of measure

Ballot title

The short ballot summary Texas voters saw on their ballot read as:[3]

The constitutional amendment providing for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes.


Full text

The full text of the measure can be read here.

Constitutional changes

See also: Amending the Texas Constitution

Proposition 3 amended Section 23(b) of Article 8 to read as follows:[5]

(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.



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.[6]

State Representative Allen Vaught addressed concerns he received through emails that if Proposition 3 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."[7]

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.


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."[8]

Campaign contributions

No committees or contributions to campaigns in favor Proposition 3 were reported.[9]



According to reports, opponents of Proposition 3 argued that if passed, the state would have the ability to impose a state property tax, reduce the control held by local entities and increase the power of the state.[10]

Other arguments included:[11]

  • 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 in opposition to Proposition 3 were reported.[9]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2009


  • The El Paso Times said Proposition 3 "would help partially reform the out-of-control residential appraisal system. In particular, Proposition 3 would establish uniform appraisal standards statewide.[12]
  • The Houston Chronicle said, "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."[13]
  • The Austin Chronicle said, "If constitutional authorization is needed for uniform standards, the government's doing it wrong," they said.[14]


  • The Star-Telegram opposed 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.”[15][16]

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.[5]

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

Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading


  1. Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional amendment election dates," accessed January 20, 2015
  2. Texas Legislative Council, "Amendments to the Texas Constitution Since 1876," accessed January 20, 2015
  3. Texas Secretary of State, "Official Ballot Language and Order for the Nov.3, 2009 Constitutional Amendment Election," July 28, 2009
  4. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Texas Legislature Online, "Enrolled Version of HJR 36," accessed January 20, 2015
  6. Houston Chronicle, "State constitutional amendments would streamline, equalize appraisal process," October 14, 2009
  7. Pegasus News, "State representative addresses Propositions 2 and 3 on constitutional amendments ballot," October 28, 2009
  8. tylerpaper.com, "Eltife Helps Explain Proposed Amendments," October 7, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 Follow the Money, Proposition 3"
  10. KCBD, "Some voters confused by Propositions 2 and 3," October 21, 2009
  11. San Antonia Express-News, "Reject unnecessary Propositions 3 and 5," October 15, 2009
  12. El Paso Times, "Propositions: Appraisal reform on November ballot," October 18, 2009
  13. Houston Chronicle, "Bad Web info," October 25, 2009
  14. The Austin Chronicle, "The Austin Chronicle' Endorsements," October 16, 2009
  15. Star-Telegram, "Texas voters should reject property tax proposals," October 12, 2009 (dead link)
  16. Star-Telegram, "Nov. 3 election recommendations," October 16, 2009 (dead link)

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