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November Ballot in Texas Features Two Constitutional Amendments Expanding CU Powers
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 7:00 AM

The Texas Secretary of State announced the order for the seven proposed amendments to the Constitution that will be on the Nov. 7, 2017, ballot. Two of the seven amendments are specific to credit unions, a historical first if passed by voters. These amendments would give credit unions the ability to incentivize savings accounts and provide members greater access to home equity loans.

The two propositions relating to credit union powers will be proposition numbers 2 and 7 on the ballot. 

"Credit unions will need to educate voters about prop 2 and 7 to ensure both measures pass in November," said Caroline Willard, president/CEO of the Cornerstone Credit Union League.

Proposition 2 (SJR 60) updates the Home Equity Lending Law and reads:
"The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing of home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads."

Proposition 7 (HJR 37) for prize-linked savings accounts reads:
"The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings."

The Legislature considered 156 amendments to the Texas constitution during the regular session this year but only approved seven measures for voter consideration.

All statewide Texas ballot measures are legislatively referred constitutional amendments, and Texas law does not allow for initiatives or referendum. If approved by voters, the amendments become a part of the Texas State Constitution. Texas is one of 16 states that require a two-thirds supermajority vote in one session to place a proposed amendment on the ballot.

The five other items on the ballot are:

Proposition 1: Offers a property tax exemption on residential homesteads of disabled veterans or their spouses if the home was donated by a charitable organization for less than the market value.

Proposition 3: Term limits for gubernatorial appointees.

Proposition 4: Requires a court to provide notice of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute to the attorney general and authorizes the legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.

Proposition 5: Allows professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.

Proposition 6: Offers a property tax exemption on residential homesteads of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.

Cornerstone will be sending information to credit unions over the next few weeks on how they can engage and support Props 2 and 7.

Credit unions participating in the League's Texas Voter Match Program have identified more than 500,000 Texas voters that are members, so those credit unions can educate those members about the benefits of Props 2 and 7.

The turnout for constitutional amendment elections in Texas ranges from 900,000 to 1.6 million voters over the last decade.

For more information, please contact Texas Credit Union Association President Jeff Huffman at 469-385-6488 or jhuffman@txcua.coop.