Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Monday, October 29, 2007

Web Resources On The Endless Amendments

Early voting is going on now. (In Dallas County, find out where and when you can vote early at this page.) How should people vote on the proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments? I've previously linked to a short summary of these in pdf form by the League of Women Voters, and a very long one by the Texas Legislative Council, which Eye on Williamson points out also has a somewhat shorter version in DOC format that can be downloaded at this link. Also, South Texas Chisme pointed out this pro-and-con pdf from the House Research Organization.

Later this week, the Texas Progressive Alliance of bloggers will put up a wrapup of posts on the amendments by all their members. I'll put a copy of that on this blog, but until then here's a list of several bloggers' postings, and just for comparison, some Republican and Libertarian takes. The Democratic Party has not taken any official position on these, and will not before this election.

Vince Leibowitz of Capitol Annex has done a four-part series looking at the propositions: numbers 1 through 4, 5 through 9, 10 through 13, and 14 through 16. McBlogger quickly reviews them all at this page. Charles Kuffner of Off The Kuff has a longer analysis, with some other links, at this page.

Musings suggested we see how the Harris County Republican Party is saying to vote, and just vote the opposite way. Following that same approach, I was unable to find a statewide or Dallas County official stand by the Republicans. I did look at a Republican columnist in the Fort Worth Paper, referred to by McBlogger, but she took just the same stands as the Harris County Republicans. I also checked out the other side by looking at a Libertarian blogger mentioned by Eye on Williamson at his site Liberty Yes, Anarchy No, and the Libertarian Party's own official positions on the amendments.

If everyone in this diverse list agrees one way or the other, that's a strong indication of something about that proposal, although in one case I personally disagreed with everyone else who took a stand; maybe that means I'm wrong on that one. I list their stands and provide my own checklist below. Check out any or all of these sources, make up your own mind, and go vote accordingly, but please do go vote.

My own scorecard for voting on this year's proposed amendments:

1 All three Democratic bloggers are for; Republicans and Libertarians take no position. Harmless bureaucratic reorganization. I vote YES.

2 Dems are for; Repubs and Libs are against. Bond issue for student loans. Unless you are one of those who always vote against bonds on principle, vote YES.

3 Dems are split; the Lib blogger is against. Vince at Capitol Annex makes the interesting argument that this "would also shift tax burden on other taxpayers, including homeowners whose values are not rising rapidly." Uh, are any home values rising rapidly today? Someday they will again; I'm voting NO.

4 Dems, Reps, and Libs ALL say no, for different reasons. The Dems don't like more funding for state prisons, now over-stuffed with non-violent offenders. I'm voting NO.

5 Dems and Libs say no. It's a potential subsidy to business in small towns by redistributing property tax burdens. On the other hand, a small-"d" democrat would say if the voters there approve this, that's their right. This only gives towns permission to vote on it. Perhaps because of being from Winnsboro (pop. 3000+), I lean to YES.

6 Dems (except McBlogger) and the Lib blogger are for. It is a subsidy car tax cut mostly affecting realtors, but I'm voting YES.

7 Dems and Libs are for. Rick Perry is strongly against. I'm voting YES.

8 Dems are for; others silent. Technicality on home equity loans. I'm voting YES.

9 Other Dems are for, and Reps and Libs are silent, but Vince argues this is unneeded and with growing numbers of Iraqi- (and soon Iranian-) war veterans this could be a big tax burden redistributed to other taxpayers. I think he's overestimating the impact, and frankly I don't care if he's right. I'm voting YES.

10 Dems and Libs are for; Reps don't care. Getting rid of Hides and Animals Inspectors. This is the most obvious call of any amendment. I'm voting YES.

11 Dems and Libs are for; Reps are silent. Requiring roll calls in the Legislature. I'm sure Tom Craddick is hoping it fails. This is the most important issue of any amendment. I'm voting YES.

12 Vince passes on this one on highway bonds, Charles is for "with reservations", and McBlogger just says no, they should give us a good proposal instead. Reps and Libs are all against. On this one I vote NO.

13 The Dems are against expanding power to deny bail; the Reps are not against it (no surprise); and the Lib blogger shows that he really doesn't understand how civil liberties work in practice by supporting it, while his party doesn't consider habeas corpus important enough to take a stand. I'm voting NO.

14 Other Dems and the Lib blogger are against this; Reps are carefully silent; and the Lib party and Kuffner at Off The Kuff think this is a step against mandatory retirement ages. Actually it is a special proposal intended to let Republican Justice Charles Holcomb serve more years on the bench. He is no hero of ours. I'm voting NO.

15 Other Dems are for, but McBlogger says use the surplus instead of bonds, and the Reps and Libs are against funding cancer research anyway. Again, unless you're just always against any bonds, vote YES.

16 More bonds, which may help poor people in colonias and similar areas elsewhere. Vince is for, but Kuffner was convinced to oppose it by McBlogger, whose horror of subsidies persuaded him to join Reps and Libs in opposition, linking to arguments by Peggy Venable. She's the one who accused of being "the activist arm of the Communist Party USA". I'll pass on taking her advice here, and agree with Vince on voting YES.


  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger CapitolAnnex said…

    Awesome job, Bill. I'm really surprised at how many people have taken positions similar to mine on some of these amendments. Usually, I think people just go in the voting booth, say, "ah, the hell with it," and vote "yes" on everything.

    I think, for the first time in at least a decade (I'll have to check my figures on that one), we're going to have an amendment (possibly more...maybe four or five) fail at the ballot box.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Gary said…

    Seems everybody has a slightly different take on these amendments. I hope everyone doesn't pull a Houston Chronicle and say our GOP legislators must know what they are doing and vote yes for all. (My Republican ex-father-in-law would say an unlimited property tax exemption is just asking for abuse no matter the worthwhile purpose.)


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