Opinion: Leticia Van de Putte on Early Voting and Props. 1, 4 and 6

Amendment Elections Coming November 5 - get registered TODAY!

Texas Water

I know you've been hearing a lot lately about who is running in next year's elections, but did you know we also have an election coming up in less than a month?

There are no statewide candidates on the November 5 ballot (although certain precincts will have local ones), but what every Texas voter will see on his or her ballot are nine proposed constitutional amendments. While I hope you'll study up on all nine, there are three to which I particularly want to draw your attention: Propositions 1, 4 and 6.

Props. 1 and 4 will help our veteran and military families. This is so important to me personally and to my family: As chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, helping our heroes and their families is at the forefront of everything I do at the Capitol.

Proposition 1, if passed, will allow for a 100 percent property tax exemption for Gold Star Spouses - the wives or husbands of service members who were killed in action.

I think giving such an exemption is just the right thing to do. I've always said that when someone serves in the military, the whole family serves. Those left back at home worry, make sacrifices, and unfortunately, sometimes get the most tragic news that their loved one has been killed. There is no way we can fully repay these families for what they have given to the United States, but giving them a break on taxes on their homestead hopefully will give them one less burden as they cope with their loss.

Proposition 4 will give a similar tax exemption, but this one is directed at certain disabled veterans. Some charities donate handicapped-accessible homes to disabled veterans - a wonderful gesture that can make life easier for our wounded warriors. However, some veterans were then losing these donated homes because they could not pay the property taxes. If passed, Prop. 4 will grant a tax exemption relative to the veteran's level of disability - i.e., a 70 percent exemption for a veteran who is 70 percent disabled, an 80 percent exemption for an 80 percent disability, etc.

Proposition 6 is critically important to our state's future, because it covers one thing none of us can live without: water.

The population of Texas increased more than 20 percent over the past decade. Because of this extensive population growth - made even worse by the horrible drought - the demand for water has increased tremendously. Our water resources are being strained, and we're overdue to do something about it.

A State Water Plan has been developed, but funds are needed to implement it. Prop. 6 creates two new funds named the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT). If Prop. 6 passes, $2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund) will be placed (only once) in the SWIFT to be used to provide low-cost financing for State Water Plan projects.

If Texas does not invest in water infrastructure, we may not have enough water to meet the needs of our people, its businesses including agriculture, and would be harmful to our economy.

I assume if you're politically aware enough to be signed up for this newsletter, then you're probably already registered to vote. But if not, the deadline to register for the Nov. 5 election is TODAY (Monday, October 7)! San Antonians may go to elections.bexar.org/Registration/registration.html or call 210-335-VOTE (8683) for registration information, or go to VoteTexas.gov.

Also, this is the first election that the new Voter ID law is in effect, so you need another form of identification in addition to your voter registration certificate to cast your ballot. If you don't already have photo ID, you may obtain an Election Identification Certificate (EIC) at your local Department of Public Safety Drivers License Office. Certain DPS offices are even staying open on Saturdays to issue EICs. I'll talk more on this as the election gets closer.