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Libertarian Positions on Texas Constitutional Amendments

October 20th, 2007

lptexas.jpgYesterday Wes Benedict sent out an email that answers questions that some of us have had regarding the 16 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution that are supposed to appear on the ballot for this year’s general election on November 6, 2007. Our state LP has taken official positions on 10 of the possible amendments, while low enthusiasm and lack of consensus seems to have prevented them from taking positions on the remaining six.

There are four of these (7, 10, 11, 14) that I will definitely be voting in favor of; they will generally increase freedom for some people and reduce unnecessary government functions, albeit in a very small way. Number 11 would be especially beneficial because it will allow us to find out how our state representatives actually voted on all bills that reach the final floor vote in the legislature.

The remainder of the proposals seem less impressive. A few of them are clearly undesirable because they will increase government spending and potential debt, and will also likely lead to future tax increases, which of course reduces our economic freedom. Most of the others are difficult to determine positions on because it is unclear whether their net effects will be favorable for us or not. In many cases, the ballot language suggests that there will be some tax reductions or exemptions, but the overall effect would simply favor certain special interests and shift the tax burden from one group of people to another, which does not exactly fit with our ideas of fairness or liberty.

Therefore, following my usual procedure for elections such as this, I will probably default to “no” votes for all but the four most desirable proposals cited above. Alternatively, we could simply abstain from voting on the ones that we really don’t care about or in cases where the ballot language makes the true effects of a proposed amendment difficult to understand.


Friend of the Libertarian Party of Texas:

Many Libertarians ask us for advice on voting in constitutional amendment elections. I hope the guide below helps you identify how to support smaller government in the upcoming constitutional amendment election.

Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6. All Texas voters can vote in this election.

I’d also like to thank our many current donors, and I encourage others to support the Libertarian Party of Texas by becoming a dues-paying member today:
http://lptexas.org/membership.shtml

Our donors make our political activities possible.

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The Libertarian Party of Texas (LPT) state executive committee has adopted positions on 10 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 2, 4, 5, 12, 15, 16
No position: 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

These are the LPT positions, with brief explanations:

1. No position (Angelo State University governance change)

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans)
Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureacrats to keep raising tuitions and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn’t encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities)
Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. AGAINST (Tax incentives for downtown revitalization programs)
This would shift the tax burden onto non-downtown property owners. Libertarians oppose giving privileged status to politically popular sectors, although we strongly support reducing taxes across the board.

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. No position (Home equity loan regulations)

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. No position (Denial of bail to some offenders)

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren’t enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.

Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

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Thanks for considering the recommendations of the Libertarian Party of Texas, and I encourage you to support the Libertarian Party of Texas today:
http://lptexas.org/membership.shtml

Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian Party of Texas


For information on the upcoming Constitutional Amendment elections in Texas, which are currently scheduled for November 6, 2007, you can go to the site for the Texas Secretary of State and view the specific ballot language for the amendments.


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