COMMENTARY: Help our first responders and veterans this election


We owe a great gratitude to our veterans and their families for serving to protect us and our nation. We must also thank all of our first responders who risk their safety and lives to keep us safe in our homes, highways and cities throughout Texas. Our veterans and first responders need our help now.

The November election is right around the corner and as we make our way to the ballot box, we will be asked to vote on seven constitutional amendments. While it is important to be informed about all the measures before us, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about two in particular: Proposition 1 and Proposition 6. I support both these initiative and think that you should consider doing so, as well.

During this past 85th Legislature, I voted in favor of giving Texans the opportunity to make both constitutional amendments into law. I co-sponsored the bill in the Texas House of Representatives, SJR1, the legislation creating Proposition 6. Both of these propositions are aimed at helping the people who have served our counties and communities, and in some cases have given the ultimate sacrifice, via property tax exemptions or homestead exemptions.

Prop 1 would help partially disabled veterans whose homes may have been partly donated by a charity group. As our men and women return to their communities from serving in the military, some of our veterans who have become disabled during service, will work with nonprofit groups and community groups to assist them in acquiring a home that will accommodate their specific needs. In some of these instances, part of the cost of the home is donated with the veterans paying some amount, as well. Currently, if a veteran receives a fully donated house, they receive a property tax exemption. However, the veteran who has paid some amount does not receive this same benefit. The goal of Prop 1 is to correct this oversight, and allow those veterans who have been able to pay for part of their home to receive the benefit of a property tax exemption. This would go a long way toward helping these veterans and their families to be able to afford to stay in their homes. Our veterans, especially those who are disabled, deserve a place to call home. These brave men and women deserve this property tax break.

Prop 6 would give the families of first responders, whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifices in the line of duty while protecting our communities, the financial security and comfort that comes along with receiving a homestead exemption. I believe it is important that our state honor these sacrifices. Think about how the spouses of our fallen first responders not only have the challenge of building a new life without their loved ones, but must also do so with the loss of a source of income. This proposition would make sure that families in this situation are not forced to move or sell the place they call home because of a sudden financial mortgage burden compounded with a tax on homestead.

In the coming weeks, I will be working with various veteran and first responder groups to help get the word out about how voters should support these important constitutional amendments. When you are asked to make a decision on Props 1 and 6, I hope you will join me in supporting our veterans and first responders and vote yes. Early voting begins Oct. 23; Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.