Texas Repeal of Hidalgo County Hospital District Amendment, Proposition 8 (2013)

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Proposition 8
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Texas Constitution
Referred by:Texas State Legislature
Status:Approved Approveda
The Texas Repeal of Hidalgo County Hospital District Amendment, Proposition 8, was on the November 5, 2013 ballot in Texas as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was approved.

The measure repealed the constitutional provision that authorized the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County. This measure was sponsored in the legislature by Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-41) as House Joint Resolution 147 (timed out).[1]

Election results

See also: 2013 ballot measure election results

Below are the official election results:

Texas Proposition 8
Approveda Yes 743,510 72.36%
These results are from the Texas Secretary of State.


In 1959, the legislature passed amendments which would allow the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County, with 10 cents per every $100 valuation of taxable property as the maximum property tax rate permitted to be imposed on the district. Before 1959, only certain areas of the state were allowed by the constitution to create a hospital district. This changed in 1962 when districts throughout the state were allowed to create hospital districts, but this new amendment specified that the property tax rate used to fund these ventures be 75 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property. Because it was specifically written in the constitution, Hidalgo County's rate remained at 10 cents per $100 of taxable property.[2]

Texas Secretary of State, John Steen selected the order of the nine ballot measures for 2013 at random. The nine approved amendments were added to the Texas Constitution, the longest state constitution in the country. As of 2011, the state legislature has put 653 amendments before voters since 1876, of which 474 were passed.[3] LWV-Texas Education Fund Chair Linda Krefting, had this to say about the nine constitutional amendments: "The issues at stake affect all Texans now and in the future, from property tax exemptions to funding the water state plan. Given the significance of the issues and relative permanence of constitutional amendments, voters need to understand each of the propositions to cast an informed vote."[4]

Text of measure

The ballot was printed to permit voting for or against the proposition:[5]

The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.


Constitutional changes

Proposition 8 repealed Article IX, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution. That section read:

Text of Section 7:

Hidalgo County Hospital District; Creation; Tax Rate

The Legislature may by law authorize the creation of a Hospital District co-extensive with Hidalgo County, having the powers and duties and with the limitations presently provided in Article IX, Section 5(a), of the Constitution of Texas, as it applies to Hidalgo County, except that the maximum rate of tax that the said Hidalgo County Hospital District may be authorized to levy shall be ten cents (10¢) per One Hundred Dollars ($100) valuation of taxable property within the District subject to district taxation.


The measure was sponsored by Reps. Bobby Guerra, Sergio Munoz, Jr. (D-36), Oscar Longoria (D-35), Terry Canales (D-40), Armando Martinez (D-39) and Juan Hinojosa (D-20).[2]


The arguments presented in favor of Prop 8 in the state's official voter guide were constructed by the Texas Legislative Council. The arguments featured were based on comments made about the amendment during the legislative process and generally summarized the main arguments supporting the amendment. They read as follows:[2]

  • "HJR 147 and SJR 54 would repeal a constitutional provision that has limited the feasibility of creating a hospital district in Hidalgo County by imposing a limitation on the property tax rate (10 cents per $100 valuation) that a district created in that county may levy that is significantly lower than the limitation applicable to virtually all other hospital districts created throughout the state. Other county hospital districts authorized to levy a property tax at the rate of 75 cents per $100 valuation generally operate with an average property tax rate between 20 and 40 cents per $100 valuation. Repealing the provision is necessary because the current limitation on the property tax rate that a district created in Hidalgo County may levy, when applied to the county's relatively small tax base, does not provide adequate funding to create and support a functional hospital district. As a result, Hidalgo County is the largest county in Texas, and one of the largest counties in the nation without a hospital district."[2]
  • "By removing this restriction, the proposed amendment would facilitate the creation of a hospital district for the provision of health-related services to the community, which includes a high percentage of uninsured residents, and improve the region's ability to attract federal funds for emergency health care for the poor. Adoption of the proposed amendment would improve access to affordable health care in Hidalgo County, put the county on par with the rest of the state, and maintain local control in the county by requiring county voter approval of the creation of the district and adoption of the applicable tax rate. A hospital district in Hidalgo County also would provide an ongoing source of revenue to help fund the creation and operation of a planned University of Texas medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. The creation of a hospital district in the county and any applicable property tax rate adopted by the district would be subject to the approval of voters in the county."[2]

According to the League of Women Voters of Texas, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, arguments in support of the measure included:[7]

  • "Hidalgo is the only county in the state with a tax limitation of 10 cents per $100 property valuation. It is also the largest county without a hospital district. The existing limitation hinders its ability to create and operate a sustainable district. Passage of Prop 8 would allow Hidalgo County the same taxing rate that other counties have."[7]
  • Hidalgo County has a high rate of uninsured residents, and this proposition could help the county establish a hospital district and obtain federal funds for much-needed emergency care for the poor.[7]


Texas Constitution
Seal of Texas.svg.png
3 (1-43)3 (44-49)3 (50-67)

According to the Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, which was compiled by the Texas Legislative Council:[2]

  • "No comments opposing the proposed amendment were made during the house and senate committee hearings or during debate on the amendment in the house and senate chambers. However, some concern has been expressed about the potential effecdt of the proposed amendment on the property tax rate in Hidalgo County. If the voters approve the repeal of the constitutional provision that limits the property tax rate that a Hidalgo County hospital district could levy, general law would allow Hidalgo County voters to approve a higher property tax rate for a district created in Hidalgo County."[2]

According to the League of Women Voters of Texas, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, arguments in opposition to the measure included:[7]

  • "Passage of this proposition would likely increase the taxes for property owners in Hidalgo County, since a hospital disteict could be created with a tax rate as high as 75 cents per $100 valuation of all property."[7]
  • "An increase in taxes could hurt the very people this proposition is hoping to serve: the poor."[7]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Texas ballot measures, 2013


  • The Austin Chronicle said, "The current law is a single-jurisdiction provision that does not belong in the Constitution, and has hampered the creation of a Hidalgo County hospital district; county voters can decide for themselves if and how to fund a district."[8]
  • The Dallas Morning News said, "The average property tax valuation by county hospital districts is now between 20 and 40 cents per $100 valuation. Therefore, the 1959 formula does not allow for adequate funding for a hospital district. The amendment meant to make it easier for Hidalgo County to create a hospital district has actually become an impediment. For that reason, we recommend passage of Prop. 8."[9]
  • Houston Chronicle said, "Proposition 8 would remove from the constitution a 1960 amendment that authorized the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County with a maximum tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property. Repealing the 1960 amendment, which applies only to the Rio Grande Valley county, would allow it to come under the section of the constitution that governs all other counties."[10]
  • San Antonio Express-News said, "Proposition 8 would repeal an amendment that severely limits a South Texas community's taxing authority if it establishes a hospital district... It is ridiculous that taxpayers in Hidalgo County in South Texas need approval from the rest of the state to tax themselves more... We urge voters to cast ballots for the amendment, and not skip it over on the ballot."[11]
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "Proposition 8 would delete the changes and allow the people of Hidalgo County, if they so vote, to increase the hospital district tax rate...The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends votes for propositions 1, 2, 4 and 8."[12]
  • The Burnt Orange Report endorsed Prop 8, saying, "The original amendment that created the hospital district was passed when Hidalgo County was too small to have statutory authority to pass its own hospital district without statewide voter approval. However, the current limit on the property tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation makes it difficult to create a hospital district because there would not be enough funding. We unanimously endorse a vote FOR Proposition 8 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections."[13]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Texas Constitution

A 2/3rds vote in both chambers of the Texas State Legislature is required to refer an amendment to the ballot. Texas is one of sixteen states that requires this. Since the bill is a joint resolution, it does not require the governor's signature before being placed on the ballot.

The Texas House of Representatives passed the amendment on May 1, 2013, with a vote of 145 to 0. The Texas State Senate then passed the amendment on May 17, 2013, with a vote of 29 to 0.[14]

Repeal of Hidalgo County Hospital District Amendment, HJR 24 House Vote
Approveda Yes 145 100%
Repeal of Hidalgo County Hospital District Amendment, HJR 24 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 29 100%

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. OpenStates.org, "HJR 147: Texas House Joint Resolution - Proposing a constitutional amendment repealing the constitutional provision authorizing the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County," accessed May 30, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, "Amendment No. 1 (HJR 62)," accessed October 7, 2013
  3. Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional Amendments," accessed September 26, 2013
  4. The Gilmer Mirror Online, "Texas Voters Will Decide: Whether to Approve Property Tax Exemptions Related to Military Service," September 5, 2013
  5. Texas State Legislature, "H.J.R. No. 147," accessed May 30, 2013
  6. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 The League of Women Voters of Texas, "Voter Information," accessed October 7, 2013
  8. The Austin Chronicle, "'Chronicle' Endorsements," October 18, 2013
  9. The Dallas Morning Review, "Editorial: Prop. 8 corrects outdated amendment, clears way for hospital district," October 6, 2013
  10. Houston Chronicle, "Our take on the proposed constitutional amendments," October 15, 2013
  11. San Antonio Express-News, "Rio Grande Valley needs Proposition 8," October 14, 2013
  12. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "On amendments, four easy choices," October 15, 2013
  13. Burnt Orange Report, "Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 8," October 18, 2013
  14. Texas House of Representatives, "History of House Joint Resolution 147," accessed September 12, 2013