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Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 9/11/2013 Views: 1701  Impressions: 4364
Categories: Politics

This week's column will be the fourth in a series outlining the proposed constitutional amendments on which Texas voters will decide on November 5. These amendments were joint resolutions that were passed during the recent legislative session; however, because they change the Texas Constitution, they need state-wide voter approval before they can take effect. The order that the amendments appear on the ballot has been randomly selected by the secretary of state. This information is taken from a report by the House Research Organization, a nonpartisan agency that provides information to the legislature.

Amendment No. 4 (H.J.R. 24)
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.
House Joint Resolution 24 proposes to permit the legislature to authorize a new exemption from property, or "ad valorem," taxation of a percentage of the market value of a partially disabled veteran's residence homestead equal to the percentage of the veteran's disability if the residence homestead was donated at no cost to the veteran by a charitable organization. It authorizes the legislature to provide additional eligibility requirements for the new exemption and to grant the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran, if the veteran died after qualifying for the new exemption, a property tax exemption for the same portion of the market value of the same property to which the disabled veteran's exemption applied if the surviving spouse has not remarried, the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the veteran died, and the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse. The proposed amendment states that limitations and restrictions on certain other property tax exemptions for disabled veterans do not apply to the new exemption.
Supporters say the legislature has recognized the sacrifices made by 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses by granting a property tax exemption for the appraised value of the veteran's homestead, but there is no corresponding exemption for veterans with only a partial disability. The method used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine disability ratings my result in a veteran who is similarly suited to those who qualify for a 100 percent disability rating, not receiving the benefits of a tax exemption, though equally deserving.
In recent years, some Texas home builders and charitable organizations have donated homes to disabled veterans. However, the a donated home can become a burden if the recipient cannot pay the resulting property taxes because disability payments are insufficient and the veteran's service-related disability precludes earned income through gainful employment. The proposed amendment would enable the recipient disabled veteran or surviving spouse to remain in the donated home with the ensuing freedom to pursue an education, find a suitable job, or start a business.
Opponents have expressed concern that singling out specific groups for property tax exemptions could erode local property tax bases and undermine uniformity in taxation.
You can view a complete list of the proposed constitutional amendments with analyses online at For more information regarding these propositions, you can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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