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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Record Attendance at the 28th Annual EHS Seminar & Trade Show

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

Thank you to all of our members who attended the 28th Annual Texas-Louisiana Environmental, Health, & Safety (EHS) Seminar and Trade Show. This year’s event saw record attendance with over 1100 participants and a very successful trade show.

The EHS Seminar is the premiere environmental, health, and safety seminar for the petrochemical industry and related industries. Our seminar is developed by industry safety professionals for industry safety professionals. Our mission is to provide education to foster personal growth and development for attendees and improve the performance of their organizations while enhancing the image of the chemical industry. This year’s Seminar featured 3 keynote speakers, 4 training courses, and 100 technical sessions with 107 speakers on a variety of topics including air, water, safety, health and wellness, security, PSM, energy, industrial incidents and emergency response. Our sessions and presenters got high marks from attendee evaluations and our exhibitors said it was a great show with quality leads.

Attendees had access to the latest safety training, regulatory insights, and industry best practices. They heard from some of the best and brightest safety experts in the country, learned about the latest products and services from nearly 140 exhibitors at our Industry Trade Show, and network with industry peers.

The Seminar also had great participation from government agencies, including: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

As always, we thank our EHS Seminar Committee for putting together an outstanding Seminar this year. A special thanks to Malinda Tange of INEOS Olefins & Polymers – Chocolate Bayou who chaired this years Seminar Committee.

Thanks to everyone for a very successful 2015 EHS Seminar and Trade Show and we look forward to reaching even more industry professionals next year.

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