New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, October 26, 2005, Page 5

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

October 26, 2005

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Issue date: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pages available: 40

Previous edition: Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Next edition: Thursday, October 27, 2005

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Publication name: New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

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All text in the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung October 26, 2005, Page 5.

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 26, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Proposition 6 continued... Constitutional County Judge may not reside in the same court of appeals district as any other member of the commission. Therefore seven members would be at-large appointees. Arguments For • The Commission is responsible for reviewing misconduct of county judges. so including a county judge would bring their perspective to the commission. • A body with this responsibility should he large enough to include many points of view. Arguments Against • Increasing the size of the commission will unnecessarily increase expenses. The Legislative Budget Board estimates it will cost about $5000 more per year. • It is important for the commission to have members from different geographic regions of Texas. Increasing the at-large membership from three to seven could severely decrease geographic diversity.PROPOSITION 7 The constitutional amendment authorizing line-of-credit advances under a reverse mortgage. (SJR 7 - Sponsors: Carona and Hochberg) Explanation The current Texas Constitution permits advances under a reverse mortgage to be made only in a lump sum or in regular equal amounts over a term of years or the lifetime of the homeowner, lf this amendment is passed, it would allow senior homeowners to draw advances under a reverse mortgage when the money is needed and only in the amounts needed. The homeowner could continue taking these periodic advances until the credit limit established by the loan documents is reached. The legislation includes other safeguards, such as prohibiting the securing of an advance with a credit or debit card. Transaction fees for each advance payment would not be allowed after the initial extension of credit is established. Arguments For •    Many senior homeowners (age 62 years and older) prefer to take advances against the equity in their homes only when the money is needed for property taxes, medical bills, and other large bills not covered by their monthly incomes. This would help the homeow ner preserve the equity in his or her home and significantly reduce the interest costs that only accrue on the amount that is borrowed. Arguments Against •    Any borrow ing against the equity in a home accrues principal and interest debt that must be repaid after the home is sold or the borrower dies.PROPOSITION 8 The constitutional amendment providing for the clearing of land titles by relinquishing and releasing any state claim to sovereign ownership or title to interest in certain land in Upshur County and in Smith County. (SJR 40 -Sponsors: Eltife and Hughes) Explanation This amendment would confirm the decisions of the Commissioner of the General Land Office that certain land in Upshur County and Smith County is not “vacant," thus clearing the titles to surface and mineral owners of this land. Since 1900, Texas' Natural Resources Code has contained a law commonly referred to as the “vacancy clause." Strips of land, which fell between surveyed parcels of land, were considered vacant and still technically owned by the State. But if an applicant believes that he or she has located vacant land, an application can be made to the Commissioner of the General Land Office for a ruling, lf the land is ultimately declared vacant, the applicant receives a 1/16 royalty for the minerals that lie under the vacant land. In 1997. a vacancy application was filed in Upshur County for 4.600 acres, which affected more than 1.000 surface landowners and more than 2.000 mineral interest owners. The Commissioner ruled that the land was not vacant, and the district court upheld that ruling. In 2003. a vacancy application was filed for approximately 900 acres in Smith County. The Commissioner determined that no vacancy existed, and that decision is pending appeal in district court. Even though the land in question is not now threatened, some title companies continue to put exceptions in their title opinions. This amendment would clear those titles. Arguments For • This amendment will bring closure to thousands of landowners in these two counties who were affected by these two cases. •    This amendment would eliminate the uncertainty that causes some title companies to hesitate in giving clear title to the subject land. Arguments Against •    This is a narrow issue that does not need to be addressed by a constitutional amendment. The law has worked as designed to protect the current property owners. • This amendment is limited to two cases in Upshur and Smith Counties, and will not rectify similar cases that might occur in other Texas counties.PROPOSITION 9 The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a six-year term for a hoard member of a regional mobility authority. (HJR 79 - Sponsors: Krusee and Staples) Explanation lf this proposed amendment is passed, it w ill allow members of the board of a regional mobility authority (RMA) to serve terms not to exceed six years, w ith no more than one-third of the members of the board to be appointed every two years. A RMA is a political subdivision formed by one or more counties to finance, acquire, design, construct, operate, maintain, expand or extend transportation projects. Board members are appointed by the counties involved; the chair of the board is appointed by the governor. Regional mobility authorities were originally authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2001. In 2003 the legislature created the Regional Mobility Act, which included a change in the length of the term of office of a board member from two years to six years. Since the Texas Constitution sets the term of office for appointed boards to be two years, an amendment would be needed to extend the term of board members of RMAs. Argument For • One function of regional mobility authorities is to recommend and seek investment for transportation projects in a region. Consistency and stability of the RMA leadership will make transportation projects more likely to attract investment from capital markets. Six-year terms allow for consistency and stability. Argument Against • The Constitution limits the terms of appointed boards to two years. Limited powers are an important part of Texas government.VOTE NOVEMBER 8 ;

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