How Opinions of Texas Voters Could Help Shape 2019 Legislative Agenda

State & Regional

When you vote early this week or on Primary Election day, you’ll be doing more than choosing the candidate you support.

Each party’s primary ballot propositions reflect what they’ve identified to be important to their platform.

“It’s a way for voters to express their preferences to the parties and the state,” Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research for the Texas Politics Project at University of Texas at Austin, said. “Flipped around, it’s a way for parties to gauge the attitudes of voters on important issues.”

Though ballot propositions are only there for voters to share their opinion on issues, come 2019, the results could shape lawmakers’ agendas.

Blank says the Texas Democratic Party and Texas Republican Party have different approaches to how they’ve crafted their ballot propositions, with Democrats asking about party principles and Republicans having specific questions.

“The thing that’s notable about the differences is that Republican primary ballot questions are some of the most contentious issues in the last legislative session, if not in the last few legislative sessions,” he said.

The Texas Democrats have titled their ballot propositions as the “Texas Bill of Rights” – 12 ideas focused on areas such as education, healthcare and immigration.

“They’re about making sure that you have access to a doctor and that’s affordable, making sure that you can go to college without crushing student loan debt that follows afterwards,” Tariq Thowfeek, communications director of the Texas Democratic Party, said.

Democratic voters will also see questions on their ballot about the right to a healthy environment, affordable housing and criminal justice system.

Republicans want to know where Texans stand on issues like school choice, how taxpayer money is used and property taxes.

“We’ll be able to measure the anger over property taxes through this ballot proposition,” Matt Mackowiak, Travis County GOP chairman, said. “Obviously the governor will be very interested to see what that number is, given that he has made a huge push for property tax reform, as has the lieutenant governor.”

Blank said while extensive polling between UT and Texas Tribune has shown most Texans are against high property taxes and they’d like lawmakers to change the system, it’s not an issue topic to tackle.

“Where the rubber meets the road is, how do you do that and still fund the state’s obligations?” he said. “So while the issue of property taxes is simple in the minds of voters in that they want them lower, the reality of it is that the politics of it and the policy of it are far more complicated, which is why we’ve seen less movement in the legislature.”

Voters may not be hearing much about the proposal since it died last session, but Republican voters will also have a chance to show how important the idea of a so-called “bathroom bill” is to them.

You can find the list of the primary ballot propositions for the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party on their websites.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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