President’s Message: Texas Primary Election is March 1st

By Hector L. Rivero, President & CEO, Texas Chemical Council and Association of Chemical Industry of Texas.

The Texas Primary Election is on March 1st and early voting starts on February 16th.    Texans will have their opportunity to cast their vote for President as well as key Congressional seats, State Supreme Court Justices, and State legislative races.

For Republican presidential candidates, Texas is the biggest prize thus far in the primaries with 155 delegates up for grabs. Delegates must be proportionally divided if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. Likewise on the Democrat side, there are 252 delegates up for grabs between the Democratic presidential candidates.  The University of Houston will host a GOP presidential primary debate on February 25th hosted by CNN.

Presidential politics aside, we have other key primary races across Texas for state Senate, state House of Representatives, Railroad Commission, Texas Supreme Court, State Board of Education, and U.S. Congress. Click here for a full listing of all races and candidates.

We’d like to highlight key State Supreme Court races that are hotly contested. Several conservative incumbent Justices are being challenged and need our support:

   -  Justice Debra Lehrmann, Place 3
   -  Justice Paul Green, Place 5
   -  Justice Eva Guzman, Place 9

Supreme Court races are costly statewide races with limits on contributions, which makes it difficult for judges to raise enough money to education voters about their record.  

FREEPAC – the Texas Chemical Council / Association of Chemical Industry of Texas Political Action Committee – have endorsed the following state legislative candidates:

For Texas Senate – Senator Paul Bettencourt, Senator Larry Taylor, Representative Bryan Hughes, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and Senator Brian Birdwell.

For Texas House of Representatives – Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Representative Joe Deshotel, Representative Dennis Bonnen, Representative Geanie Morrison, Representative Todd Hunter, Representative Jim Murphy, Representative Dan Flynn, Representative Byron Cook, Representative Travis Clardy, Representative Kyle Kacal, Representative John Raney, Representative Paul Workman, Representative DeWayne Burns, Representative Ron Simmons, Representative Doug Miller, Representative John Frullo, Representative Charlie Geren, Representative Angie Chen Button, Representative Cindy Burkett, Representative Jason Villalba, and Representative Sarah Davis.

 “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We urge you not to deprive yourself of this important right.  Please exercise your right and privilege to vote and encourage your friends, family and co-workers to do the same!

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Seven Proposed Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot

By Hector L. Rivero, President & CEO, Texas Chemical Council and Association of Chemical Industry of Texas.

This fall there are seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. They cover several different topics, all of which will only take effect if approved by Texas voters.

We have summarized each amendment, but please be advised that the ‘official’ ballot language will differ from these summaries. The Texas Secretary of State has a great website with additional information. There, you can locate polling places, get early voting dates (Oct. 19th through 30th), and even find detailed explanations of the ballot measures. Here are the proposed constitutional amendments:

Proposition 1 would increase the residential homestead exemption from $15,000 to $25,000, starting in 2015. For those 65 and over and individuals that are disabled, the amendment would also provide for a proportionate reduction. School districts would be held harmless from revenue loss by the state. In addition, school districts would be prohibited from reducing a homestead exemption adopted by the district until 2020. Lastly, the amendment would prohibit the creation of a transfer tax on real estate transactions.

Proposition 2 would extend an existing constitutional amendment ratified by voters in 2011. The amendment would exempt the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran, who died before 2011, from taxation on the market value of their residence homestead, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried. Currently, this exemption only applies to those deaths occurring after 2011.

Proposition 3 would repeal the requirement that statewide elected officials must reside in Austin, Texas.  Under current law, statewide elected officers are required to reside in the capital city during the time of his or her service. The proposed amendment does not apply to the Governor.

Proposition 4 would allow a charitable foundation associated with a professional sports team (Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, or Major League Soccer) to conduct charitable raffles. Up to 50% of the proceeds may be used for a cash prize and the remainder for operating expenses and charitable purposes. This law applies to entities defined as professional sports team charitable foundations on January 1, 2016.

Proposition 5 would allow small counties (7,500 population) to construct and maintain private roads – as long as the county imposes a reasonable charge for the work.

Proposition 6 would add the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife to the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution. It would also establish hunting and fishing as the preferred method of managing and controlling wildlife in Texas.

Proposition 7 proposes a constitutional amendment to provide dedicated funds to the State Highway Fund (SHF) as follows:

(A) $2.5B of state sales and use tax that exceeds the first $28 billion collected during the fiscal year beginning in 2018;

(B) 35% of the tax imposed on the sale, use, or rental of a motor vehicle that exceeds the first $5 billion collected during the fiscal year beginning in 2020.

The money deposited to the SHF is intended for construction, maintenance, or acquiring right-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads; or to repay certain transportation-related debt.

Constitutional Amendments provide voters with an opportunity to make important statewide decisions.  We hope everyone will find time during early voting or on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3rd) to vote on these proposed amendments.

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