How is the Texas Constitution changed?
As you’ve read in your text, changes to the Texas Constitution are proposed by the state legislature, but can only be approved by a majority vote in a statewide election. In 2017, voters adopted all seven amendments proposed by the state legislature.
In 2019, legislators proposed ten amendments for voter consideration last month. The first one, Proposition 1, attempted to solve a problem for some small Texas towns that have trouble finding anybody to serve as municipal court judge.
The Texas Constitution (Article 16, Sec. 20) generally prohibits a person from holding more than one paid public office at the same time – which seems like a good idea. There is a list of exceptions for certain offices such as notary public (which, technically, is an appointed state office), as well as for members of the military and the reserves, etc. A few years ago, they added an exception for appointed municipal court judges in small towns where there may not be many lawyers willing to serve. This exception would allow one person to serve as a municipal court judge in several nearby small towns – probably just conducting traffic court for an hour or two every couple of weeks in each town.
Some cities, however, elect their municipal court judges, and those elected judges are not covered by this exception. This year, legislators unanimously approved H.J.R. (“House Joint Resolution”) 72, to extend the more-than-one-city exception to elected municipal court judges.
Write a 2 -5 page (double-spaced, normal font and margins, cited sources, etc.) essay about Proposition 1. Make sure you essay tells your reader:
1. How this got to on the ballot (Talk a little about H.J.R. 72 and its progress through the House and Senate).
2. What it was designed to do.
3. Who seemed to be in favor and against.
4. What potential problems could this create, if any?
5. How would you have voted on this if you had been a state legislator?
6. How did you vote (or how would you have voted) on this as a voter last November?
7. What did voters decide about the proposal, and why do you think they made that decision?
Submit in Word (.docx). Cite your sources.
Here’s H.J.R. 72: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HJR72 (Links to an external site.)
Here’s the House Research Organization report on H.J.R. 72 that legislators saw when the resolution came to the House floor for a vote: https://hro.house.texas.gov/pdf/ba86r/hjr0072.pdf#navpanes=0 (Links to an external site.)
Here’s the HRO report on all the proposed amendments on last month’s ballot: https://hro.house.texas.gov/pdf/focus/amend86.pdf (Links to an external site.)
The Houston Chronicle had a brief article about the outcome of the election: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/TEXAS-CONSTITUTIONAL-AMENDMENTS-Voters-pick-14812573.php (Links to an external site.)
Here’s a good analysis of all of this year’s proposed amendments from the Texas Legislative Council: https://lrl.texas.gov/scanned/Constitutional_Amendments/amendments86_tlc_2019-11-05.pdf