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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - Page 7

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   New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 26, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas                                PROPOSITION 1 The constitutional amendment creating the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund and authorizing grants of money and issuance of obligations for financing the and expansion of rail HJR 54 Sponsors McClendon and Staples Explanation This if would authorize the Legislature to create a dedicated the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement to be administered by the Texas Transportation for modernizing and expanding both publicly and privately owned freight and passenger rail Funds for the rail projects may come from the sale of as well as from general revenue that is not dedicated for other The source of funding and size of the fund would be determined by the In the enabling legislation HB 1546 requires that no bond obligation can be issued before the Texas Department of Transportation develops a strategic plan outlining how funds would be used and how the state would Texas has more atgrade rail crossings than any other state in the As more hazardous cargo passes through heavily populated urban their safety has become an In the effort to maintain profitability following deregulation in rail industry investment in infrastructure has lagged behind the needs of a growing population and the demands of everincreasing freight The current rail infrastructure is insufficient to maintain rails market share and keep freight off the It has been projected that billion will be needed to relocate and modernize existing rail facilities in Texas over the next twenty The Legislative Budget Board estimates the general revenue fund will pay million per year in debt and million in fees for each billion dollars in Costs to local governments would depend on the size and type of projects to be constructed in their Arguments For The proposal may help relieve congestion on public improve air and enhance safety at railway The new and upgraded rail corridors would foster economic Savings to the highway fund that is currently used for improving rail crossings and related expenses would offset a portion of the cost of this Arguments Against Each billion dollars in bonds will require debt service and fees of almost 100 million per which is a huge longterm commitment of state There are many more costeffective and direct ways to improve air quality than financing rail facility Railroad companies are realizing higher profits that should allow them to re invest in infrastructure without public PROPOSITION 2 U The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to HJR 6 Sponsors Chisum et and Staples Explanation In the Texas Legislature enacted the Defense of Marriage Act DOMA which makes marriage between persons of the same or a civil void in this The act also states that Texas will not recognize a samesex marriage or civil regardless of the jurisdiction in which it was Lawsuits challenging DOMA laws are pending in other states and in the federal so several including are now choosing to protect their DOMA laws by passing constitutional If this amendment would state that marriage in Texas consists only of the union of one man and one It would also prohibit the state or any political subdivision from creating or recognizing any legal status that is identical or similar to The joint resolution proposing this amendment contains a statement of legislative intent that allows the appointment of rights to hospital and the designation of life insurance without the existence of any legal status identical or similar to But this will neither be part of the constitution nor in any and thus should have no effect on judicial interpretation of the proposed Arguments For A constitutional amendment would prevent court challenges to the current law against same sex marriage or civil Eighteen 18 other states have constitutional amendments with similar definitions of and others are working on The proposed amendment would not prohibit same sex couples from continuing their Arguments Against Changing the constitution to define marriage and ban samesex marriages is not necessary to set legal as there is a statute already prohibiting samesex Texas should provide equal protection to all its citizens and should not discriminate against a group of citizens in the state PROPOSITION 3 The constitutional amendment clarifying that certain economic development programs do not constitute a HJR 80 Sponsors Krusee and Ogden Explanation HJR 80 amends Section Article III of the Texas This section allows the legislature to create statutory programs for economic including grants and It is implemented by Chapter 380 of the Local Government The purpose of these grants and loans is to create The programs are usually longterm so the granting agency can ensure the funds are Any financing for these economic development programs that is backed by ad valorem taxes requires voter If any loans or grants for these programs are not secured by a pledge of ad valorem then they do not create a A recent trial court case ruled that under another section of the any grant program lasting longer than one year does result in an unconstitutional and therefore requires special financing such as bonds or certificates of This amendment would clarify that loans or grants made under this not secured or financed by ad valorem do not constitute or create a Arguments For This amendment clarifies existing allowing it to This tool is needed to attract development and create Arguments Against The amendment allows for the continuation of longterm grants and loans for economic development without voter When a local government creates a longterm voter approval should be   

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