FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2007
While elections to amend our Texas Constitution don't usually produce a flurry of voters, they do impact our lives substantially.
I encourage every registered voter to study each proposed amendment--called Propositions--and cast an informed vote on November 6.
The origin of each Proposition begins in the Texas Legislature as either a Senate Joint Resolution or a House Joint Resolution (SJRs and HJRs). When either the House or Senate measure is finally approved by both Chambers, it is slated for the ballot.
This past legislative session, I authored Senate Joint Resolution 20, and Rep. Norma Chavez of El Paso sponsored this measure in the House. SJR 20 was the forerunner to Proposition 16, which upon voter approval, would allow for a $250 million package of water and wastewater bonds for economically distressed areas of Texas.
We've identified the current need for water and wastewater services at $5.4 billion. This means that statewide, thousands of homes lack adequate water and wastewater services. Besides the obvious inconvenience, this lack of basic services continues to pose health and safety risks for the residents in these communities.
Proposition 16 can be the conduit to these critical services by funding the statewide Economically Distressed Areas Program II (EDAP II). In the past, this program was targeted solely at the border region.
According to the Texas Water Development Board, in Senate District 27 (Cameron, part of Hidalgo, Kenedy, Kleberg and Willacy counties), as well as in the rest of the state, hundreds of thousands of people live in communities classified as economically distressed. Under the program, communities that show a demonstrable water need may be potentially eligible for EDAP II funding.
Contingent upon passage of Proposition 16, our budget committees in the Senate and House provided enough money to issue a total of $87 million in all EDAP bonds within the next two years.
We can't expect children to mature as healthy, contributing members of society while living in third world country conditions.
Funds for EDAP, which was financed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, are almost depleted. Proposition 16 can replenish these monies, open the door to economic development in distressed areas and reduce the amount of polluted wastewater discharged into our state streams and bays. A strong turnout will help achieve these goals.
Another Constitutional Amendment I co-authored is HJR 90. Appearing on the ballot as Proposition 15, this proposal would create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizes the issuance of up to $3 billion in bonds.
I believe Texas has the brainpower and determination to find a cure for this devastating disease, but the cost of research and prevention does not come cheap. It requires a commitment from Texas voters that we will fight and conquer cancer. Many Texans participate annually in walks to find a cure. Now by punching a key on a computer or filling in a circle on a ballot sheet for Proposition 15, these and thousands of other voters might just get us to the finish line of this race for a cure!
Currently, cancer is the number two killer of Texans, killing more than 37,000 each year. Some of my own family members have battled this disease. And the cost to do battle for each of these cases is financially, physically and emotionally devastating.
This disease costs Texans more than $30 billion each year, directly and indirectly. Grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute would provide the cancer research and treatment community with up to $300 million each year for 10 years.
Cancer research funding is being cut on the federal level continuously, so we must pick up the tab. However, the money isn't readily available. Therefore, the issuance of general obligation bonds for these and other proposed amendments requires voter approval.
The other 14 amendments range from limiting appraised values of residential homesteads to requiring that a record vote be taken by the Legislature on final passage of any bill that is not local legislation or a legislative resolution.
For more information on these amendments, you can log onto http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2007novballotlang.shtml, call the Secretary of State's Office at 1-800-252-8683 for English or Spanish, check your local newspaper, or contact your County Elections Administrator, County Clerk or Tax Assessor-Collector.
Please remember to vote your conscience and for the good of Texas.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.