November 2, 2019
Waco Tribune-Herald | By Todd Nafe
I generally avoid politics in this column, but once in a while, something comes along that’s so clear-cut that I have to speak out. (And no, it’s not what you’re thinking.)
First of all, Texas has about the most screwed up Constitution in the nation – and it was designed that way on purpose after the Civil War in order to keep power out of the hands of the federal government’s hand-picked governor at the time. The legislature only meets once every two years for 140 days, so if anything needs to be done in the meantime, it either has to wait for the next legislative session or election to make changes – or for the governor to call a special session.
The Texas Constitution was written in 1876 and has been amended nearly 500 times (as compared to the U.S. Constitution’s 27 amendments). The Texas government is set up so that lawmakers have little power to change laws without a constitutional amendment, which has to be voted on by voters statewide – even though some proposals might only affect a handful of counties or citizens. I remember voting on an amendment once that had to do with a right-of-way dispute between a few Panhandle ranchers and a railroad.As messed up as our state government is, though, it’s still important to participate in the parts that are meaningful. When you go vote on Tuesday, you’ll find 10 proposed constitutional amendments, and I encourage you to consider each carefully – but as an outdoorsman, I strongly urge you to vote in favor of Proposition 5.
This proposed amendment has the word “tax” in its title, which might cause some knee-jerk voters to automatically vote against it. However, Proposition 5 would not raise taxes – it would only protect funding already being collected from sporting goods sales and use from being raided by legislators who want to use outdoor-related funds in other projects.
Basically, it takes the money spent on things like hunting and fishing licenses and dedicates it to fund Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Historical Commission to manage parks and historic sites. Voting “no” simply lets politicians go in and divert the outdoor-related funds and spend the money in other areas.
Proposition 5 has widespread support among conservation groups, outdoor sports-related organizations, nearly unanimous support from political leaders in both parties, and it just makes sense to use revenue generated from outdoor sales to support the outdoors. Plus, it’s what was promised when the original bill was passed back in 1993.
The arguments in favor of passing Proposition 5 are numerous and valid. The main argument against passage is basically, “What if we need the money somewhere else?”
Take a few minutes on Tuesday and do something good for the outdoors – vote “yes” on Proposition 5.