Three ballots, seven constitutional amendments and a variety of expensive bonds may make the 2017 Travis County election day seem a bit intimidating. Though this year may not be host to a contentious presidential election, the issues up for vote this year are just as likely to affect the lives of Central Texas residents.
On Nov. 7, polls across Travis County will open at 7 a.m. on election day. It’s easy to brush off local elections, especially if you’re from another part of Texas or out-of-state, but make sure to check out these issues before the polls close at 7 p.m. — you may be paying for them with your Chipotle dollars.
The $184.9 million Travis County bond
It will be up to Travis County residents — yes, that includes you, dear West Campus inhabitants — to fund this suggested infrastructure bond. According to the Travis County website, $93,445,000 of the bond will go to Proposition A, which will fund roadway, draining, bridge, bicycle and pedestrian projects. Proposition B of the bond, the remaining $91,495,000, would fund environmental conservation efforts throughout the county, including local parks.
The $1 billion AISD bond
Today, the Austin Independent School District will seek approval from the public for a bond of little more than a billion dollars. According to the AISD website, it would help build or improve 16 campuses. The money would mainly help reduce overcrowding, improve technology and create modern learning environments for local students, but it would also cost residents their taxpayer dollars and extra time on their commutes through construction.
State constitutional amendment Proposition 4
This amendment to the state constitution would, according to the Austin Chronicle, require that courts have a waiting period of up to 45 days in cases debating the constitutionality of a law. According to Vote Texas, this amendment would also require courts to inform the attorney general of cases arguing the constitutionality of state laws. This would allow a window of time for the attorney general to appeal. In the case of Texas’ controversial “sanctuary cities” law, this would mean the lawsuit would have been held for up to 45 days after informing the attorney general before a judge could make a decision about it being unconstitutional.
State constitutional amendment Proposition 5
According to Vote Texas, this amendment regards charitable raffles conducted by professional sports team’s charitable foundations. This means that the definition of the term “professional sports team” would be further detailed so that a team would not have to be like the Astros to be recognized as a foundation. Additionally, the requirement for the team’s foundation to have existed by Jan. 1, 2016 would be taken away. According to the Austin Chronicle, this amendment would mean more sports team foundations than the currently approved 10 would be allowed to hold charity raffles.
State constitutional amendment Proposition 6
For the surviving spouse of first responders killed during duty, this amendment would allow an exemption for their homes from ad valorem taxes, which are determined by the value of a property. This exemption, according to Vote Texas, would also extend to the new home or property, to the extent of the former property’s value, of the surviving spouse should they move following the passing of their loved one. It would only be applicable to a spouse who has not remarried since their spouse’s passing.