On November 3, East Texans will go to the polls to decide the fate of seven proposed laws.
The laws range from hunting rights to transportation to savings for homeowners. All seven propositions on the 2015 ballot have been endorsed by state representative Trent Ashby. Ashby even authored the proposition which calls for fishing and hunting to be considered a constitutional right. Ashby said the state wanted to do this based on a movement in the Northeast by anti-hunting groups to limit what hunters are allowed to do.
"This is very personal to me," Ashby said. "It is personal to Texans. I hunt. I take my two boys hunting. We are getting our deer blind ready right now. I don't want to look back in 20-25 years and know that I could have done something."
Ashby also pointed to proposition 7 as being the most important issue on the ballot. The proposition would bring new funding to the transportation fund.
"If you look at the state we are expected to grow from 27 million to 40 million by 2030, so we desperately need it especially across this region of East Texas," Ashby said.
The new funds cannot be used for toll roads and must be used on existing highways or new projects. Ashby said once the sales tax revenue reaches $28 billion, the next $2,5 billion would go to the highway trust fund. Ashby said in addition the state will use vehicle sales tax money. Once the state reaches $5 billion, 35 percent of any more profits would be moved to the highway trust fund.
"I keep my eye on those roads," Ashby said. "I talk to people up and down those roads and it's important."
Proposition 1 is also getting attention. The proposition will expand on the current homestead exemption for residents. It will also outlaw any future sale tax on people wishing to sell their home. If passed, it could save Angelina homeowners roughly an additional $250 a year.
The Texas AFL-CIO has spoken up against the proposition.
"This is a case of misplaced priorities," The executive board said in a statement. "The amount of funding allocated to the proposed tax relief, plus the amount for business franchise tax relief, could have easily paid for a substantial pay raise for teachers and other public employees, as well as more attention to core state programs that have suffered significant cuts. Renters will not benefit from this proposed amendment and past experience suggests home-owners will net very little, if anything, once local tax rates have been finalized."
Lufkin Realtor Angie Williams said that is not the case and the law would not hurt funding to any other resources.
"The cost of living continues to climb," Williams said. "If we can offset that and keep people in their homes or help people to continue to purchase their homes, then that $250 a year is going to be a bigger benefit than people realize."
East Texas school districts are also fighting for their future.
On August 24, 2015, the Nacogdoches ISD Board of Trustees approved calling a bond election set for November 3, 2015, for the amount of $43.30 million. If passed by the voters, the bond sale will have a tax impact of $.10 to $.11 per $100 of valuation for the 2016-17 fiscal year, depending on the terms of the bond at the time of the sale.
Information on the bond can be found here.
Lufkin ISD will also have a special tax ratification election. The election would free up $3 million from the state annually without affecting the tax rate on residents. The District will allow for residents to vote during the Friday night prep rally at the high school and then at the administration building on Tuesday.
Early voting for all polls closes Friday at 4:30 p.m.