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What the Texas elections could mean for local churches and nursing homes

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Early voting is still going on in Texas, and voters will be making some big decisions about the future of the state constitution.

In total, there are eight proposed amendments, and while they are all important, there seem to be two that stand out.

Both are likely a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and could affect many people, especially if you go to a church or live or visit a nursing home.

Churches are just one of the many things that had to adapt to the pandemic.

“I got a call from my music minister at the time, who’s an executive at a hospital, and he said I think our plan for this Sunday doesn’t make sense,” said Stephen Suffron, the pastor at First Baptist Church in Denison.

He said they decided to go virtual, and when they opened back up, they did their best to follow CDC guidelines.

“We would continue to operate in a way if another crisis were to come we would certainly consider public health and all those kinds of things and do what we thought was best, but we certainly appreciate the freedom to make our own decisions,” said Suffron.

But the decision to open or close the doors of churches could be left in the hands of voters this year on proposition three of the proposed amendments.

“For instance, if the government were to come and disallow us from going to church because of COVID or some other quote-on-quote emergency, this would not allow the state to do that,” said Britton Brooks, a local attorney.

However, there’s a concern for some voters about this.

“Now, the counter-argument from some is that when you get together in large groups, COVID can spread more quickly,” said Brooks. “Obviously, that applies to churches, maybe to weddings, maybe going to work, schools. We saw that happen quite a bit back in 2020.”

Another place COVID can spread rapidly is nursing homes.

“During COVID, many nursing homes disallowed from coming and seeing their families,” said Brooks.

Proposition number 6 would change that.

“This allows residents in nursing homes to pick at least one person that the state can not take away from them to come visit, whether if it’s a nurse, whether it’s a family member, anybody they choose will be deemed essential for that purpose,” said Brooks.

Here’s the complete list of the propositions:

Proposition 1: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Proposition 2: “The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

Proposition 3: “The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

Proposition 4: “The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.

Proposition 5: “The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Proposition 6: “The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Proposition 7: “The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Proposition 8: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

Early voting ends Friday.

Election day is Tuesday, November 2nd.

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