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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2013-10

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: September 5, 2013
RE: 2013 Legislative Summary

Below is a brief summary of the major election-related legislation that passed during the 83rd Regular Session. Please note the following:

Bills

House Bill 148 – The bill prohibits anyone from paying or receiving compensation for the mailing of completed carrier envelopes and mail ballots or assisting persons with the completion of mail ballots. It also requires that a notice of this prohibition be given with the mail ballot materials on the carrier envelope or another sheet of paper.

Effective Date:  Effective September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code  § §  86.0052, 86.0105, 86.013

House Bill 259 – The bill prohibits owners and operators of public buildings serving as polling places from impeding electioneering outside of 100 foot marker. However, it allows owners and operators to enact “reasonable regulations” concerning the “time, place, and manner of electioneering.”

Effective Date:  Effective immediately.  (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 61.003, 85.036.

House Bill 396 – Allows FPCA voters to vote in general and special elections held by a county, municipality or school district for the calendar year in which the FPCA is received. Requires early voting clerks to send FPCAs to  early voting clerks who conduct an election in which the FPCA voter is eligible.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 101.054(a) and (b)

House Bill 506 – Requires political subdivisions, other than counties, to use a county polling place within the political subdivision during early voting for November uniform elections. Any shared polling place that is designated as the main early voting location must be open for voting for all political subdivisions, and keep the hours of the political subdivision making the designation.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 85.010

House Bill 630 – Amends the quorum requirement for filling vacancies on a political party’s county executive committee.  Allows a state chair to appoint a party chair from an adjacent county for counties under 5000 population or contract with a county directly for the primary of statewide offices if there is a vacancy and a county executive committee cannot be established.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 171.024 (b) and (c), 171.025, 172.128

House Bill 666 – Allows voters eligible to vote early due to either disability and/or age (over 65 years old) to file an ABBM annually.  Previously, ABBMs  would need to be submitted to the early voting clerk for every election.

Effective Date:  January 1, 2014

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 86.0015

House Bill 985 – Amends rules for November general election for state and county officers only.  Provides that the EVBB shall verify and count provisional ballots by the 13th day after the election.  Previously, the EVBB was required to complete counting by the 7th day after the election.  Provides that the Voter Registrar must have seven calendar days to complete the review of provisional voter’s eligibility the governor’s canvass is amended to become 18 to 33 days following the elections.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 65.051, 65.052, 67.003, 67.012(a)

House Bill 1129 – Establishes a one county pilot program for receiving ballots from military voters in a combat zone.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 105.004

House Bill 1164 – Amends §42.005(a) to provide that a county election precinct may contain territory from more than one ward in cities with a population of 10,000 or more.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (May 24, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 42.005, 42.010

House Bill 1632 – Codifies existing practice regarding confidentiality of information for certain public officials including peace officers.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 13.004(c); Tex. Gov’t Code 552.1175

House Bill 1996 – Provides that a County Chair is permitted in the polling place during a primary election to perform “administrative functions related to the conduct of the election.”

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 172.1113

House Bill 2006 – Allows a person that is an “employee of the political subdivision that adopts or owns the voting system” to serve as a counting station manager, even if they are not a registered voter of the political subdivision.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 127.002(b)

House Bill 2110 – Prohibits a person from being a poll worker if related to or employed by a candidate for party office which appears on the ballot in that precinct.  Requires election officers to wear an identification badge.  SOS will provide the form of the ID badge.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 32.054(a), 62.003

House Bill 2233 – Provides that the EVBB may compare any “two or more signatures of the voter made within the preceding six years” when reviewing a ballot by mail.  The signature comparison can only be used to confirm signatures are from the same person.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 87.041(e)

House Bill 2263 – Allows voters to order a replacement voter registration certificate telephonically or electronically.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 15.004

House Bill 2373 – Allows for electronic capture of a voter’s signature for the signature roster/combination form.  SOS must approve devices and make rules regarding the minimum requirements of signature capture devices.

Effective Date:  September 1 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 63.002

House Bill 2465 – Requires SOS, to the extent practicable, to indicate if a voter is on the suspense list on the SOS website.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 15.086

House Bill 2475 – Amends the §64.034 oath taken by persons assisting a voter, to state that the assistant is not the voter’s employer, an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 64.034

House Bill 2512 – Allows disclosure by DPS to SOS of information such as social security number and other personal information to assist in the maintenance of the voter registration records.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Transp. Code § 521.044 (a) and (c), 730.005

House Bill 2818 – Clarifies language and boundaries of local option elections in Justice Precincts when the boundaries change between the local option elections.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Alcoholic Beverage Code §§ 25.14, 69.17, 70.04, 251.72, 251.80

House Bill 3102 – Allows for parties to have more flexibility in governing party operations.

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 162.001(a), 162.008, 162.010, 162.011(a), 162.017, 163.004, 163.005, 163.006, 171.0221, 171.024 (a), (b) and (e), 174.021, 174.022 (a), (b), (c) and (d), 174.023(a) and (b), 174.025(a), (c), (d) and (e), 174.026, 174.027, 174.062, 174.063(a), (b) and (c), 174.064(a) and (b), 174.065, 174.067, 174.068, 174.069, 174.092(a), 174.093, 174.094, 174.096, 181.063, 181.066, 181.067, 191.031(a) and (c)

House Bill 3103 – Makes changes to the administration of primaries:

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 172.022(b), 172.028 (a) and (b), 172.029, 172.056 (a) and (b), 172.082(e), 172.084(e), 172.118(a) and (d), 172.119(b), 172.124, 172.125, 181.033

House Bill 3593 – Provides changes to process of determining potentially deceased voters.  Allows for the SOS to work with other state agencies to review databases with information contained in the voter registration process.  Requires counties to investigate potential ineligibility of weak match deceased.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 16.033, 18.068

Senate Bill 160 – Requires poll watchers to wear an identification badge upon being accepted for service.  Texas SOS will produce the form of the badge to be worn.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 33.051

Senate Bill 553 – Allows for high school students to serve as early voting clerks, in addition to election day clerks (maximum of two days).

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code § 83.012; Tex. Educ. Code §§ 25.87, 33.092

Senate Bill 578 – Allows for countywide polling places during a primary election.  If a political subdivision is holding joint elections with a county under the countywide polling places program, the political subdivision may use only the countywide polling places in their territory in a primary runoff.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 43.004, 43.007(a)

Senate Bill 637 – New notice requirements in the election order for bond elections in political subdivisions.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 3.009, 4.003

Senate Bill 817 – Amends Chapter 181 to require nominating party conventions be held the second Saturday in April, instead of the second Saturday in June.  Allows candidates or office holders to serve as county or precinct chairs for political parties under Chapter 181 (nominating convention parties).

Effective Date:  Effective immediately (June 14, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 161.005, 163.002, 181.061

Senate Bill 902 –  Water District cleanup bill.  Please review carefully for Water District elections changes. Sections below are the ones pertinent to elections.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013, except Sections 30 and 31 take effect immediately (May 18, 2013)

Statutes Affected:  Water Code §§ 49.1045, 49.105, 49.108, 49.109, 49.110, 49.111, 49.112, 49.113

Senate Bill 904 – Amends §145.092 to change the withdrawal deadline to 5 p.m. on the fifth day after the filing deadline.  Previously, a candidate must have withdrawn by 5 p.m. on the third day after the filing deadline.  Requires the SOS to create a checklist for early voting clerks to use while processing FPCAs and ballots.  Provides that a voter that completes the signature sheet is not required to complete a carrier envelope.

Effective Date: September 1, 2013, except Section 8 takes effect December 31, 2016

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 101.007, 145.092, 172.054(a) and (b), 172.057, 172.058(a), 202.004 (a) and (c)

Effective Date:  September 1, 2013

Statutes Affected:  Tex. Elec. Code §§ 1.007(c), 13.002, 13.143, 16.001, 31.006(b), 32.054, 52.075, 63.0011, 84.007(c), 85.034, 86.001(f), 86.014(a), 141.031, 144.005(a), 145.96(a), 172.054(a) and (b), 172.057, 172.058(a), 201.052, 201.054(a), 202.004(a) and (c), 215.002; Tex. Gov’t Code § 62.113

Joint Resolutions

Proposition 1

"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action."

HJR 62 proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to provide by statute for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the United States armed services who is killed in action, as long as that surviving spouse has not remarried.  A surviving spouse who later qualifies a different property as the surviving spouse's residence homestead would be entitled to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the subsequently qualified homestead in the same amount as the exemption received by the first homestead in the last year it was received on that property, again as long as the spouse has not remarried.

Proposition 2

“The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational."

HJR 79 proposes a constitutional amendment to repeal the constitutional provision requiring the creation of a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is in operation.  No new loans have been made from the fund by the board in more than 25 years, and the board currently has no appointees and receives no program funding.

Proposition 3

"The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption."

HJR 133 would authorize local political subdivisions to extend the length of time that aircraft parts could remain temporarily in this state before being subject to ad valorem taxation. Under current law, merchandise, wares, and goods (including aircraft parts) may remain in this state temporarily for up to 175 days before being subject to ad valorem taxation; the proposed amendment would permit taxing entities to extend the exemption up to 730 days after the date that a person acquired or imported aircraft parts in the state.

Proposition 4

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.”

HJR 24 proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow for the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.

Proposition 5

“The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.”

SJR 18 would authorize the making of reverse mortgage loans for the purchase of homestead property in addition to the current legal uses of those loans, and would give lenders recourse against borrowers who fail to timely occupy the homestead properties purchased with such loans. Required disclosures would be amended to include relevant written warnings of the risks and conditions applicable to “for purchase” reverse mortgage borrowers and their spouses.

Proposition 6

"The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources."

SJR 1 would create the State Water Implementation Fund as a special fund inside the state treasury and outside the General Revenue Fund. Money in the fund would be administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and would be used to implement the state water plan, as adopted by general law, by TWDB.

Proposition 7

“The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.”

HJR 87 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow home-rule municipalities to adopt charter provisions authorizing the filling of vacancies in the governing body by appointment, but only when the remainder of the vacant term is less than 12 months. Under current law, municipal voters may adopt terms of office for municipal officers longer than two years, but upon approving longer terms of office, any resulting vacancies in office must be filled by special election.  The proposed amendment would provide an option for home-rule municipalities to fill short-term vacancies through appointment.

Proposition 8

"The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County."

HJR 147 would repeal the Texas Constitution’s maximum tax rate for a Hidalgo County hospital district; the maximum rate is currently set at 10 cents per $100 valuation. This rate is lower than the maximum tax rate allowable for hospital districts in all other counties in the State (75 cents per $100 valuation).  The repeal of the constitutional cap would authorize hospital district tax rates in Hidalgo County equal to the hospital district tax rate laws applicable to all other Texas counties.

Proposition 9

“The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.”

SJR 42 would expand the potential sanctions that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can issue following a formal proceeding.   This constitutional amendment would allow the Commission to issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, or a requirement to obtain additional training or education in addition to the Commission’s current authority to issue a public censure or recommend removal or retirement of a judge.