Amendments Sail to Easy Passage

Amendments Sail to Easy Passage

by Aman Batheja (reprinted from the Texas Tribune)

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

With more than 90 percent of all precincts counted, statewide measures aimed at cutting property taxes, boosting funding for road projects and reiterating Texans' right to hunt and fish appeared headed toward easy passage Tuesday evening.

Texas lawmakers asked voters to approve seven amendments to the constitution, all related to measures passed during this year's legislative session. All seven propositions were drawing  at least 67 percent support Tuesday evening.

Several Republican elected officials were quick to declare victory, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus.

"By voting to lower property taxes, invest in transportation infrastructure and constitutionally guarantee the right to hunt and fish, Texans are creating an even better place for future generations to live, work and raise a family," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
Here’s how the seven propositions were faring, based on unofficial, incomplete returns:

Proposition 1, which raises the homestead exemption for school districts from $15,000 to $25,000, was leading with 87 percent support. Texas will pay about $600 millionannually out of state coffers to cover the loss of revenue to school districts, according to the Legislative Budget Board. The measure is expected to save the average homeownerabout $126 per year.

Proposition 2 addresses a quirk in state law that only allowed spouses of disabled veterans who died after Jan. 1, 2010, to be eligible for 100-percent property tax exemptions. The amendment, which was leading with 92 percent support, extends state law to the spouses of veterans who died before 2010, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried.

Proposition 3 would overturn a constitutional requirement that statewide officials including the comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and attorney general live in Austin. The measure was leading with 67 percent.

Strongly backed by the Dallas Cowboys and other Texas sports franchises, Proposition 4 would allow charitable foundations of professional sports teams to conduct charity raffles known as “50/50” games at stadiums. Usually, fans would buy raffle tickets and the winner gets half the pot, with the other half going to charity. The measure was leading with 69 percent.

Proposition 5 raises the population limit — to 7,500 people, from 5,000 — for counties where the government can perform road construction. The measure was leading with 83 percent.

Proposition 6 reiterates Texans’ right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, a measures supporters said was needed to prevent future legislative attempts to limit the right. The measure was leading with 82 percent.

Under Proposition 7, the state would dedicate some taxes collected on car sales for the State Highway Fund. That fund is used to maintain and construct public roadways and bridges in the state and decrease transportation-related bond debt. The measure was leading with 84 percent.

After legislative sessions, lawmakers typically require multiple amendments to the state's rigid constitution to allow for some laws to be enforced. Since it was adopted in 1876, Texans have amended their constitution more than 400 times.

In the six-way special election to replace state Rep. Joe Farias, D-San Antonio, in state House District 118, Republican John Lujan and Democrat Tomas Uresti appeared headed for a runoff, with 26 percent and 24 percent support respectively, with 49 percent of precincts counted. Farias' son, Gabe, was in third place, with 21 percent of the vote. The three other candidates all drew less than 15 percent support.

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"Blindside" mom to headline dinner for local foster and adoption ministry

ABILENE -- Leigh Anne Tuohy, the inspirational matriarch that inspired the Academy Award-winning movie The Blind Side, will headline the 2015 Champion for Children dinner on November 16 at the Abilene Civic Center. The dinner benefits Christian Homes & Family Services, a local maternity services, foster care and adoption ministry.

Since The Blind Side debuted in 2009, Tuohy has used her unique platform to inspire audiences to recognize the full potential of individuals in their community and to find value in those who society has deemed valueless. She shares her personal “Blind Side” observations, from seeing Michael Oher for the first time to how the experience of adopting him changed her as a person, and the Tuohys as a family. “He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life,” said Tuohy.

“There are wonderful kids that need families,” said Tuohy. “We don’t believe there are any unwanted kids; we just believe there are unfound families.”

Christian Homes & Family Services pursues its mission of a Christian home for every child by providing free maternity care for young women with unplanned pregnancies; by offering foster care to children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned; and by recruiting and training Christian couples anxious to adopt.

In addition to Tuohy’s Blind Side presentation, the Bill and Wilma McMillan Award established by Bruce and Charlotte Davis in 2014 to honor foster parents for their love, sacrifice and dedication to standing in the gap for children will be presented to Dwayne and Margaret Johnson. Since the Johnsons began fostering for Christian Homes in 1966, Dwayne and Margaret have fostered 132 children. Some tiny infants have stayed for just a few days, and others have called the Johnson’s home their own for years.

For decades Christian Homes & Family Services was known as Christian Homes of Abilene. Now the ministry also has offices in Fort Worth, Tyler and in Chickasha, OK.

Sponsorship and ticket information for the Tuohy Champion for Children dinner is available by calling 325-677-2205 or at www.ChristianHomes.com.

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"Blindside" mom to headline dinner for local foster and adoption ministry

Chronicle & DV Costume Contest Winners

Congratulations to our winners! All of the costumes were fantastic!

Back row: Crystal Kincaid and Christian Kincaid. Middle row: Dorian Ercanbrack, Theron Hester-Payne and Justin Willis. Front Row: Chance Billiot, Presley Croft and Kaiden Ritter.

Chronicle & DV Costume Contest Winners