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Early voting underway for Nov. 7 ballot

LIVINGSTON -- As of noon on Friday, only 115 Polk County residents had cast early ballots on seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Election day will be on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Early voting will continue next week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Locations include the first floor of the Polk County Judicial Center in Livingston, where a total of 74 people voted last week; the Polk County Subcourthouse in Onalaska, where 30 early votes were cast last week; and the Sechrest Webster Community Center in Corrigan, where 11 early ballots were received last week.

Because of the expected low voter turnout for the amendment election, the 20 voting boxes normally used by county have been consolidated into five locations.

They will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, Nov. 7.

The voting places include:
Voting boxes 3, 4, 7, 16, 18, and 21 will vote at the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston.
The Onalaska Sub-Courthouse at 14111 U.S. Highway 190 West will host voters for Voting Boxes 5, 6, and 17.
The Escapee’s Care Center at 159 Care Center Drive near Livingston will be the voting location for Boxes 1, 2, 15, 19 and 20.
Voting Boxes 8, 9, 10 and 11 will vote in Sechrest Webster Community Center at 100 West Front Street in Corrigan.
Soda Baptist Church at 8135 U.S. Highway 190 West in Livingston will host Voting Boxes 12, 13 and 14.
Voters unsure of which box they should use should look on their voter registration card. The voting box number is listed as “Prec. No.”

The Propositions are as follows:
Proposition Number 1 (HJR 21)
HJR 21 proposes a constitutional amendment that would permit the Texas legislature to expand the circumstances under which a partially disabled veteran or their spouse may qualify for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the veteran’s residence homestead. Currently, the Texas legislature may provide that a partially disabled veteran or their spouse is entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of a percentage of the market value of the disabled veteran’s residence homestead only if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization at no cost to the veteran. The amendment would allow the Texas legislature to provide that the exemption also may be taken when the residence homestead was donated, sold, or transferred to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead. The amendment also harmonizes certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.
Proposition Number 2 (SJR 60)
SJR 60 proposes a constitutional amendment to require that certain conditions be met for the refinancing of a home equity loan to be secured by a voluntary lien on a homestead. The amendment also would: redefine what is excluded in the calculation of the cap on fees associated with a home equity loan, lower the cap from 3% to 2% of the original principal amount of the extension of credit, and specify that such fees are in addition to any bona fide discount points used to buy down the interest rate. The amendment would further specify the list of authorized lenders to make home equity loans, change the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, allow agricultural property owners to acquire home equity loans, and update technical terminology in the Texas Constitution. The amendment would be effective on January 1, 2018, and applicable only to a home equity loan made or refinanced on or after that date.
Proposition Number 3 (SJR 34)
SJR 34 proposes a constitutional amendment that would prevent certain office holders from serving indefinitely beyond the expiration of their term. Office holders who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate and receive no salary would only be able to serve until the last day of the first regular session of the Texas legislature that begins after their term expires.
Proposition Number 4 (SJR 6)
SJR 6 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the Texas legislature to require any court that is hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute to notify the attorney general of that challenge, if the party raising the challenge notifies the court that the party is challenging the constitutionality of such statute. Additionally, the amendment would allow the Texas legislature to set a period of not more than 45 days following the notification to the attorney general that the court must wait before rendering a judgment that a state statute is unconstitutional.
Proposition Number 5 (HJR 100)
HJR 100 proposes a constitutional amendment to provide a more detailed definition of “professional sports team” for purposes of their charitable foundations, which the Texas legislature may permit to hold charitable raffles. The amendment also deletes a requirement that an eligible professional sports team charitable foundation permitted by the Texas legislature to hold charitable raffles had to be in existence on January 1, 2016.
Proposition Number 6 (SJR 1)
SJR 1 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the Texas legislature by general law to provide that a surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is entitled to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation from all or part of the market value on the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder. It would also allow the Texas legislature to provide that the surviving spouse, who qualifies and receives the exemption and then qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the different homestead in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the exemption of the first homestead for which the exemption was received in the last year in which the surviving spouse received the exemption for that first homestead. Like the initial exemption, this benefit will only remain available if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder. The proposed amendment would apply only to ad valorem taxes imposed for a tax year beginning on or after January 1, 2018.
Proposition Number 7 (HJR 37)
HJR 37 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the Texas legislature to make an exception to the law regarding the award of certain prizes. Currently, the Texas Constitution requires the Texas legislature to pass laws prohibiting lotteries, raffles, and other programs where the award of gifts is based on luck or chance. The proposed amendment would make an exception to this general rule to allow the Texas legislature to authorize credit unions and other financial institutions to institute programs which, in order to encourage savings, would award prizes based on luck or chance to the credit union’s or financial institution’s customers.