Texas Tax Exemption on Residences of Service Members Killed in Action Amendment, Proposition 1 (2013)
|Texas Proposition 1|
|Referred by:||Texas State Legislature|
The measure granted the legislature authorization to provide property tax exemptions on all or part of the market value of the home of a member of the armed services who was killed in action to the surviving spouse, provided that the surviving spouse has not since remarried. Additionally, if the surviving spouse qualifies for and receives such an exemption and later qualifies a different property as his or her residence, the spouse is still entitled to a property tax exemption on the new home equal to the amount of the original exemption for the first home. Again, this applies only if the surviving spouse has not remarried. This measure was sponsored in the legislature by Rep. Chris Turner (D-101) as House Joint Resolution 62 (timed out) and was approved unanimously in both the House and the Senate. The enabling legislation for Prop 1 was SB 163.
- See also: 2013 ballot measure election results
Below are the official election results:
|Texas Proposition 1|
- These results are from the Texas Secretary of State.
At the time of Proposition 1's approval, Section 1-b, Article VIII of the Texas Constitution allowed for various property tax exemptions on the homes of disabled veterans and their surviving spouses, but did not previously grant such exemptions for the surviving spouses of service members who were killed in action. SB 163, Acts of the 83rd Legislature, Regular Session 2013, added section 11.132, the section which enabled the surviving spouse to receive the tax exemption, to the Tax Code.
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 had put 653 amendments before voters since 1876, of which 474 were passed. 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."
Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot via HJR 62. However, SB 163 was the enabling legislation for HJR 62. Enabling legislation is a bill passed into law by the Texas Legislature that authorizes an exemption for prior contracts or bids. SB 163 will take effect January 1, 2014, as a result of Prop 1's approval. SB 163 amends Chapter 11 of the tax code and removes the minimum age of 65 years to qualify for this tax exemption; there is no sunset provision provided. This amendment creates an avenue by which the stipulations laid out in Prop 1 can be implemented. Read more about enabling legislation here.
Text of measure
The ballot was printed to permit voting for or against the proposition:
|“||The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.||”|
SECTION 1. Text of Section 1-b: Residence Homestead Exemption
§(l) The legislature by general law may provide that the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action is entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the surviving spouse's residence homestead if:
§(m) The legislature by general law may provide that if a surviving spouse who qualifies for an exemption in accordance with Subsection (l) of this section subsequently qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse's residence homestead, the surviving spouse is entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the subsequently qualified homestead in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the exemption from ad valorem taxation of the former homestead in accordance with Subsection (l) of this section in the last year in which the surviving spouse received an exemption in accordance with that subsection for that homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the member of the armed services.
SECTION 2. The following temporary provision is added to the Texas Constitution:
TEMPORARY PROVISION. (a) This temporary provision applies to the constitutional amendment proposed by the 83rd Legislature, Regular Session, 2013, authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action. (b) Sections 1-b(l) and (m), Article VIII, of this constitution take effect January 1, 2014, and apply only to a tax year beginning on or after that date. (c) This temporary provision expires January 1, 2015.
Fiscal impact statement
State impact: According to the Fiscal Impact Statement for HJR 62, which was released on May 14, 2013, "No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated, other than the cost of publication. Any loss of revenue would be attributable to the corresponding enabling legislation. The cost to the state for publication of the resolution is $108,921. The proposed amendment, in and of itself, has no fiscal impact on the state or units of local government."
However, according to the Fiscal Impact Statement for SB 163, which was released on May 21, 2013, the enabling legislation, Prop 1 will have an estimated negative impact of $98,000 through August 31, 2015. By 2018, it will have an estimated negative impact of $232,000.
Local impact: The fiscal note said the following about Prop 1's potential affect on local governments: "The fiscal implication to units of local government is reflected in the table [below] and is contingent upon passage of a constitutional amendment authorizing the exemption."
The measure was sponsored in the legislature by Reps. Chris Turner, Joseph Moody (D-78), Dan Flynn (R-2), Jason Isaac (R-45), Harvey Hilderbran (R-53) and Leticia Van de Putte (D-26). The measure was passed unanimously by both chambers of the Texas legislature.
The arguments presented in favor of Prop 1 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 that supported the amendment. They read as follows:
- "The surviving spouses of service members killed in action are as deserving of a residence homestead property tax exemption as the surviving spouses of totally disabled service members, who were extended such an exemption just two years ago. Existing benefits for military widows and widowers can be inadequate, particularly for a newly single parent having to adjust to the loss of a husband or wife and to an uncertain future."
- "Although the cost of the exemption would be borne in part by local governments with taxing jurisdiction, the local governmental entities contacted by the proponents of the legislation expressed no opposition to the exemption, which would have only a small effect on individual local governments given the relatively small number of surviving spouses who would be eligible and the amount of the average Texas homeowner's annual property tax bill. While the effect on local governments would be small, the tax exemption nevertheless would provide real and meaningful relief to a surviving spouse at a critical time of need as well as recognize the sacrifices borne by both the service member and the service member's family."
- "The proposed amendment would allow local governments in Texas to assist surviving spouses of U.S. armed services members who have been killed in action by providing valuable relief during such a difficult time. Surviving spouses who qualify would be able to save money on property taxes and could use this money elsewhere."
- "Surviving spouses would be able to transfer the exemption to a new residence if the surviving spouse chose to move within the state."
Other arguments included:
- Author and sponsor Chris Turner spoke in support of Prop 1, saying it "removes barriers communities and organizations face when helping out our disabled veterans by taking away the tax burden associated with the gift of a home" allowing those who sacrificed defending our freedoms to heal focusing "on their dreams, career and family without the worry of losing their home."
- According to the group Northwest Austin Republican Women, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, supporters said: "This constitutional amendment provides for a way to honor our service members who died in combat by allowing their surviving spouse a property tax exemption. Texas already allows a 100% disabled veteran a homestead exemption and for that exemption to transfer to their surviving spouse, but the law does not currently allow the surviving spouse of a person who was killed in action to receive a similar property tax exemption. The exemption expires when the surviving spouse remarries."
- Empower Texans supported Proposition 1. They said, "When service members make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, their spouses should not be burdened by the threat of losing their home because of the loss of income to the family."
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3 (1-43) • 3 (44-49) • 3 (50-67)
4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17
According to the Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, which was compiled by the Texas Legislative Council:
- "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, questions were raised about efforts to determine the fiscal effect on local governments and whether the exemption would encourage surviving spouses who are residents of other states to move to Texas, further hindering the ability of local governments to generate sufficient revenue without raising property taxes. In addition, a concern was expressed that the proposed amendment excludes other deserving populations and adds to the complexity of a system of tax exemptions and other veteran benefits that are awarded based on the categorization of veterans into various classes. A review of other sources reveals that there is concern that if the legislature continues to expand the categories of property owners who receive property tax exemptions local governments may have to raise property taxes on other property owners in order to generate the same amount of revenue."
- School districts would receive less revenue from property taxes so the state would have to cover the reduction by pulling from state general revenue, creating a cost to the state.
- Local governments would lose revenue, especially in cities and towns where military families largely populate the area. This would result in a projected yearly loss of up to $84,000 from counties, $93,000 from cities, and $45,000 from school districts by 2018 (SB 163 Fiscal Note). An increase in the number of people who receive property tax exemptions might require local governments to increase taxes for other taxpayers.
According to the group Northwest Austin Republican Women, which offered both support and opposition arguments for the measure, opponents said:
- "This constitutional amendment will provide for another carve-out for property taxes, which will shift the burden to other property owners."
Media editorial positions
- The Austin Chronicle said, "Would grant a homestead property tax exemption to a surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of a veteran killed in action. This amendment would add to already numerous exemptions, but is otherwise unobjectionable."
- The Dallas Morning News said, "The thinking here is straightforward: Texans should honor the sacrifice not only by the service member but also the family left behind. A surviving spouse’s grief is compounded when he or she inherits big mortgage burdens, often with minimal financial resources to draw upon... Approval is the least Texans can do to show their appreciation."
- Houston Chronicle said, "The proposed amendment would allow the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who was killed in action to be exempt from paying local property taxes. Although local governments and school districts would lose revenue, we believe the assistance to surviving spouses is worthwhile. It's valuable relief during a difficult time."
- The San Antonio Express News said that it was "for" Prop 1. This publication supported all nine of the proposed constitutional amendments.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "Proposition 1 would exempt from property taxes the homestead of the spouse of an active-duty service member who is killed in action. The exemption goes away if the spouse remarries...The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends votes for propositions 1, 2, 4 and 8."
- The Burnt Orange Report endorsed Prop 1, saying, "This is an important part of keeping our promise to the families of our veterans who make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. We enthusiastically endorse a vote FOR Proposition 1 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections."
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 was a joint resolution, it did not require the governor's signature before being placed on the ballot.
Both chambers of the legislature approved the measure unanimously. The Texas House of Representatives passed the amendment on May 9, 2013, with a vote of 141 to 0. The Texas State Senate then passed the amendment on May 21, 2013, with a vote of 31 to 0.
|Texas Disabled Veteran Residence Tax Exemption Amendment, HJR 62 House Vote|
|Texas Disabled Veteran Residence Tax Exemption Amendment, HJR 62 Senate Vote|
- Texas Legislative Council's Official Voter Guide, "Amendment No. 1 (HJR 62)," accessed October 7, 2013
- OpenStates.org, "HJR 62: Texas House Joint Resolution - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action," accessed May 31, 2013
- Northern Texas Citizens Lobby, "9 Proposed Amendments – Put Through the Constitutional Test," accessed October 25, 2013
- Legislative Reference Library of Texas, "Constitutional Amendments," accessed September 26, 2013
- The Gilmer Mirror Online, "Texas Voters Will Decide: Whether to Approve Property Tax Exemptions Related to Military Service," September 5, 2013
- Texas Secretary of State, "Texas Administrative Code: Title 34, Part 1, Chapter 3, Subchapter O," accessed October 25, 2013
- Texas Legislature Online, "FISCAL NOTE, 83RD LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION," May 21, 2013
- Texas State Legislature, "H.J.R. No. 62," accessed May 31, 2013 (timed out)
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Texas Legislature, "H.J.R. No. 62," accessed September 26, 2013
- Texas Legislature Online, "FISCAL NOTE, 83RD LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION," May 14, 2013
- Texas Legislature Online, "FISCAL NOTE, 83RD LEGISLATIVE REGULAR SESSION," May 21, 2013
- Texas House of Representatives, "History of House Joint Resolution 62," accessed September 4, 2013
- The League of Women Voters of Texas, "Voter Information," accessed October 7, 2013
- Northwest Austin Republican Women, "Pros and Cons, Texas Constitutional Amendment Election 2013," September 8, 2013
- Empower Texans, "Recommendations: Texas Constitutional Amendments," October 17, 2013
- The Austin Chronicle, "'Chronicle' Endorsements," October 18, 2013
- The Dallas Morning News, "Editorial: Propositions 1 and 4 for vets deserve passage," October 3, 2013
- Houston Chronicle, "Our take on the proposed constitutional amendments," October 15, 2013
- San Antonio Express, "Vote early in amendment election," October 18, 2013
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "On amendments, four easy choices," October 15, 2013
- Burnt Orange Report, "Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 1," October 17, 2013