November is a pivotal month.
It’s the month in which we set aside a day to give thanks. It’s also the month we begin putting off Christmas decorations. And when we finish eating our kids’ Halloween candy.
Oh, and November’s a month when there are elections – things that in all seriousness really can change lives.
And, for better or worse, it’s also the month of the San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon.
This is a very good half marathon. Great route. Well-organized. Ran it last year and loved it. And I sort of committed to myself that I’d run it this year.
Long-time readers of the Watson Wire know that I kinda like to brag a little about running half marathons. I ran five of the things over about a 12-month period. The last two were earlier this year during the legislative session.
Well, later in the session, my running program fell off (quite a bit). So did my eating discipline (maybe even more). The thing that didn’t fall off was my weight. It went up. A lot. And I’ve actually gained some more pounds since the session.
(The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I saw a picture in the daily newspaper last week of me laughing. With my rounder, arguably far more cherubic, face and increasing number of facial folds, I looked a little like a Muppet.)
If I have any chance of running and surviving a half marathon in mid-November, it’s time to get my head (and my belt-line) right and seriously start training. And, sadly, stop eating. (Purists might say it’s a little past time, but that’s where my unusual athleticism will come in handy.)
Another reason to look forward to November
As I noted, there’s an election in November too.
It’s not one you hear a ton about – it’s an odd-numbered year, which means there aren’t any people running on the state-wide ballot (though there are mayor and city council elections in places such as Houston). And, for some reason, quite a few Texans are focusing their political attention on places like Iowa and New Hampshire right now.
There are, however, 10 ballot propositions on the November 8 ballot that would allow Texas voters to amend the state’s constitution.
It’s a quirk of Texas law that the constitution needs to be amended fairly frequently, even on relatively minor issues, for bills that the legislature passes to take effect. Among other things, this means all Texans, regardless of where they live in this big ol’ state, get to scratch our heads as we stand in the voting booth and contemplate why it’s our business whether to let El Paso County create a conservation and reclamation district to develop parks and rec centers (Proposition 7).
But there are other ballot issues that are critically important to the state’s future – particularly when it comes to water.
Let’s start with Water Stewardship
For instance, I’m working hard to pass Proposition 8, which would enact the Water Stewardship legislation
I passed during the regular session. This law would encourage landowners to manage their property in a way that conserves water and improves water quality for future generations of Texans.
This was a bipartisan effort that passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature. And it’s won the support of a wide range of business, environmental and agricultural groups.
But there are nine more propositions besides that one. So here’s a quick rundown on everything you’ll be considering in November. I voted for all of these measures during the legislative session, and I’m supporting all of them on the ballot.
Proposition 8 – Water Stewardship:
Just to reiterate, nothing’s more important than a clean, reliable water supply. Proposition 8 will protect water quality in rivers, streams and aquifers, while also helping the state meet its long-term goal of using better conservation methods for almost a quarter of its water supply. It will be Texas’ first statewide water conservation tool.
This proposition will let owners have their land appraised in much the same way as some owners who receive an agricultural valuation (generally resulting in a lower tax bill). Landowners would receive this valuation if they manage their land in a way that improves water quality and quantity. However, the law would only apply to people who already qualify for the agriculture valuation – meaning it wouldn’t cost the state money, but it would incentivize land management practices that help the state’s water supply. Proposition 2 – Water Bonds:
This would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue continuing debt, with no more than $6 billion outstanding at any time, for projects that help the state and local entities improve the state’s water supply.
More than 90 percent of the state is in moderate to severe drought right now. We need tools such as both Prop 2 and Prop 8 to meet our future needs.
Proposition 6 – Money for Schools: This gives the state flexibility in how it calculates money that’s available to schools from the state’s Permanent School Fund. It also allows the state to distribute up to $300 million more per year from what’s known as the Available School Fund. All told, that translates into more money for Texas schools and schoolkids.
Proposition 1 – Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans’ Spouses: The state already provides a full property tax exemption to veterans who are completely disabled. This proposition would extend that benefit to the surviving spouses of those veterans as long as they continue to meet certain conditions.
Proposition 3 – Higher Education Bonds: This would let the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board issue debt to pay for student loans, subject to restrictions such as a maximum amount of debt outstanding at any one time.
Proposition 9 – Pardons and Community Supervision: This lets the Governor, with the written recommendation of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, grant a pardon, reprieve or commutation of sentence to someone who completes deferred adjudication community supervision.
Not quite as major, but still needed, propositions
There are also a handful of propositions that, for technical legal reasons, need to pass so that the state and its local governments can function more efficiently and accountably. (I hope that explanation is reassuring as you’re trying to figure out why you need to weigh in on this stuff in the same way you help pick the President of the United States.)
Proposition 4 allows counties to issue tax-supported bonds to develop or redevelop certain areas within the county.
Proposition 5 lets cities and counties contract with each other without having to meet certain conditions.
Proposition 10 extends the length of an unexpired term-in-office that triggers the automatic resignation of some local elected officials should those officials announce they’re running for something else.
And, of course, there’s Proposition 7. Good luck, El Paso.
Seriously, these are all good propositions and they deserve your support. Early voting starts October 24. Don’t miss it.