While the upcoming election ballot will not determine our nation’s president or our state’s governor, there are still important items that will be up for a vote Nov. 7.
Texans will vote on 14 propositions, and of those, three have direct and far-reaching impacts for rural Texans, ranchers and landowners. Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association supports the following proposed state constitutional amendments and urges its members to vote “yes” on Propositions 1, 6 and 8.
Proposition 1 – Protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture and wildlife management.
During the 88th Regular Session earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed two bills and a joint resolution to strengthen the state’s existing Right to Farm law, and safeguard agriculture from new and growing challenges.
House Bill 2308, authored by Rep. Trent Ashby and sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry, protects Texas farms and ranches from unwarranted lawsuits and other legal actions. H.B. 2308 also encourages the growth of state agriculture by shielding expanded farming and ranching operations under the Right to Farm law.
Another piece of legislation, H.B. 1750, expands the right to farm protection for agricultural operations near and around cities and other municipalities. H.B. 1750 was authored by Rep. DeWayne Burns and sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed H.B. 2308 and H.B. 1750, and they became law Sept. 1.
In addition, the Texas Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 126. The joint resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right of Texans to farm and ranch. H.J.R. 126 gained widespread bipartisan support in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. The proposed constitutional amendment protects all farms and ranches regardless of size.
Along with farming and ranching, it also protects timber, horticulture and wildlife management to secure the right of all Texans to steward the land they love, while providing food, clothing and shelter for the state, nation and world.
H.J.R. 126 will be on the November ballot as Proposition 1. Although ranching and Texas are often viewed as synonymous, the success of Proposition 1 cannot be taken for granted.
A similar measure failed in Oklahoma in 2016, where groups seeking to end farming and ranching used negative tactics and false or misleading attacks to defeat the amendment. We cannot let that happen in Texas.
Proposition 6 – Creating the Texas Water Fund to assist in financing water projects.
Another important constitutional amendment on the November ballot, Proposition 6 creates a Texas Water Fund to repair aging and leaking pipes, as well as fund new projects needed to meet the increasing demand for clean water in the growing state.
The proposition represents the culmination of years of hard work by a bipartisan group of legislators known for their efforts on behalf of agriculture and rural Texans.
Proposition 6 seeks to ensure the state has an infrastructure capable of efficiently delivering clean water, both now and in the future.
Proposition 8 – Creating the Broadband Infrastructure Fund to expand high-speed
access and assist in financing connectivity projects.
Proposition 8 continues the important work by the Texas Legislature in previous years to improve access to high-speed broadband Internet for all residents.
Improvement to high-speed broadband access helps improve rural Texans’ access to certain healthcare services, and their access to information needed for success in work and education.
Throughout the last few years, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has reached across the state to better understand current efforts and areas of need to guarantee all Texans have access to high-speed broadband Internet and its benefits.
Legislators passed a bill this session to make the necessary updates to the state’s broadband infrastructure in response to these findings. But, without funding, these efforts cannot be implemented.
Proposition 8 must pass to secure needed dollars to provide reliable access to broadband service, including those who ranch and steward land in the rural parts of the state.
As we near Nov. 7, remember what is at stake. Please encourage friends and family to join you at the polls to support the future of rural Texas.
Melissa Hamilton is the executive director of government relations for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
Please note that Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers made recommendations on the propositions with a direct impact on agriculture and/or rural areas of the state. These recommendations are not meant to indicate a lack of support for other propositions on the ballot.