Editorial

11 October 2021

Capitol Update: Constitutional Amendments 3-5

Since the last time we spoke, the House Redistricting Committee approved an initial version of the redistricting map for the Texas House of Representatives. The bill has been set for debate before the entire House this week. Following passage of this bill, the House will turn our focus to congressional, State Board of Education, and Texas Senate redistricting maps.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…

Capitol Update

As you’ll remember, last week I examined the first two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot for the upcoming statewide election on November 2nd. This week, I will dive into Propositions 3-5.

Proposition 3 proposes a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from limiting or banning religious services and organizations. In the state’s early response to the pandemic, some political subdivisions such as municipalities and counties issued orders that directly or indirectly limited religious services. Concerns have been raised that those restrictions may have infringed on the right to free exercise of religion provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the right to worship provided in Section 6, Article I, Texas Constitution. As a co-sponsor of the legislation which led to this proposition, I certainly support this measure. Government at any level should not deprive anyone of their right to worship.

Proposition 4 proposes a constitutional amendment to change the eligibility requirements for serving as a Texas Supreme Court Justice, a judge for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a justice of a Court of Appeals, and a State District Judge. For example, if this proposition passes, one must be at least 35 years of age, licensed to practice law in Texas, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of this state at the time of election to serve as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. There have been numerous bipartisan calls to revise eligibility requirements. I support Prop 4, as bolstering qualifications will establish a higher quality judiciary in the state and benefit all Texans.

Proposition 5 proposes a constitutional amendment to give the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) the authority to accept complaints, reports and conduct investigations on all candidates for judicial office. Currently, all elected judicial officers are subject to certain ethics restrictions established by the Code of Judicial Conduct, whereas candidates are not. Proposition 5 would create a more level playing field by allowing SCJC to investigate judicial candidates who potentially breached the Code of Judicial Conduct. I support Prop 5, as it will make judicial elections more transparent and ensure all candidates and officeholders meet a high standard of ethical conduct.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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