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August 13, 2003

BOR Endorsements: No on Prop 3, Yes on 11

By Byron LaMasters

As promised, we're making more endorsements in the upcoming September 13 election. Earlier, we endorsed a NO vote on Prop 12. My father, a doctor, strongly supports this prop, and I, once again offer to post his position on here unedited if he wishes. However, my position goes unchanged. I oppose Prop 12 for the reasons outined in my earlier post.

No on 3: Prop 3 would "authorize the legislature to exempt from taxation land owned by a religious organization that is leased for use as a school...". This is a terrible precedent to start. It basically encourages vouchers and helps to tear down the legal wall of seperation of church and state. We oppose this proposition. Here's the Houston Chronicle Endorsement Against Prop 3. They detail most of our arguement against Prop 3, and we support their position, so read this!

Texas law exempts religious organizations from ad valorem taxation on their place of worship and allows an exemption of up to three years during which a new house of worship or an expansion is under construction. The law further requires no property tax to be paid on land used by a religious group (or anyone else) for the operation of a school.

Proposition 3, which voters will encounter on the Sept. 13 ballot, would amend the Texas Constitution to expand those exemptions to include undeveloped land owned by religious groups for future use as schools or worship facilities. The proposed amendment also would exempt such property from ad valorem taxation if a church leases the land to someone else for school use.

The Chronicle recommends voters reject this overly broad, unfair proposal to grant new and unneeded tax exemptions.

It would be wrong for the government to tax churches, temples, mosques and other centers of worship, and the state has an interest in encouraging education through tax exemptions on schools, including those run by religious societies. But to create new tax loopholes for religious organizations that might some day use a piece of land as a worship center or school would only remove land from tax rolls and shift an even greater burden onto other local property taxpayers.

Both contiguous and noncontiguous land could qualify for the tax exemption.

This proposed amendment suggests Texas legislators have not been listening to their constituents' pleas for relief from skyrocketing property tax bills, especially taxes that fund public education. The more raw land exempted from taxation, the higher the tax bills will be for homeowners and businesses.

More disconcerting still is the amendment's proposed tax exception for land that religious groups would lease to others for use as a school. This would create an unfair distinction in the law between religious affiliations and other people or organizations that lease property for operating schools.

Churches should not be able to buy land, exempt it from taxes and then rent it out for nonreligious purposes. Why should they enjoy this advantage over other landowners who might want to lease property for a school?

According to the proposition's underlying legislation, HB 1278, a religious group would be required to build a worship building or school or lease the land for use as a school within a certain number of years to avoid having to pay back taxes and penalties for misusing the exemption. Although these sanctions would provide taxpayers some protection against abuse, they could be too easily gotten around by a provision in the statute allowing a religious organization to avoid penalties by conveying the land to some other religious group eligible for the tax exemption.

Texas tax law currently provides for tax exemptions based on how a parcel of land is used. If this amendment passes, it would create a category of exemptions based on who owns the land. Defeating Proposition 3 would prevent this unsound proposal to differentiate classes of taxpayers based on religion.

Proposition 3 will appear on the ballot as, "The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation property owned by a religious organization that is leased for use as a school or that is owned with the intent of expanding or constructing a religious facility." It only sounds innocuous. It should be defeated.

The proposition will appear on the ballot as follows: "The constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation property owned by a religious organization that is leased for use as a school or that is owned with the intent of expanding or constructing a religious facility."

We're not against everything, though.

We support Prop 11. We support Texas wineries, and we support efforts to help our economy, so again, we support the Houston Chronicle position on Prop 11:

Production of Texas wine is increasingly important to the state's agricultural base. Texans are not only growing first-class grapes, they are producing wines at local wineries that gain in attention and appreciation year after year for their quality and taste.

Proposition 11 would facilitate wine production in our state by allowing the Legislature to authorize wineries to make, sell and dispense wine in any area of the state, even in dry counties. Under the amendment, dry areas would still keep local control of other alcoholic beverage sales.

Proposition 11 appears on the Sept. 13 ballot as follows: "A constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to enact law authorizing and governing the operation of wineries in this state."

The quality of Texas wine has improved greatly over the past 20 years or so and there is reason to hope that wine production could someday become as important to our state's economy as it is to California's. At a time when Texas must press its economic advantages, passage of Proposition 11 on the Sept. 13 statewide ballot will help it along.

And no, we don't agree with the Houston Chronicle on everything.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at August 13, 2003 01:21 AM | TrackBack


I must say that I am leaning towards the Chronicle's views myself, on both issues. I don't believe that relief from taxation should be granted based on the POSSIBILITY of a piece of property possibly being used for religious or school usage.
On the winery issue, I think I also support this ballot. I never understood the whole dry county thing when I grew up there. OK, so you don't want booze to be sold in your county. The amendment doesn't withdraw that right to these individuals. However, if I am visiting Texas wineries, and happen to be passing through, you mean to tell me I can't buy any wine if it happens to be in a dry county? (Just want to make sure I am understanding the law as it stands now.) How does that currently effect their sales? They can't even ship the wine out to those who wish to buy it (resteraunts, bars, lounges)? How in the heck are they supposed to make money? I am officially confused. :\

Posted by: Erin at August 13, 2003 10:58 AM

"This book [speaking of the bible] is the secret of
England's greatness." Queen, Victoria Windsor

"My daily advisor and comfort is the impregnable rock
of the Holy Scriptures." Gladstone, architech of
American law

"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of
life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ.
These will make you a greater and happier people than
you are. Congress will do every thing they can to
assist you in this intention." a message to the
Native American Indians, May, 12th, 1779 by, George
Washington, 1st US President

"Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not
only of republicanism and of all free government, but
of social felicity under all governments and in all
the combinations of human society." John Adams, 2nd
US President

"I have always said, and will always say, that the
studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us
better citizens, better husbands, and better fathers."
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President, 1st Washington
D.C. school board president

"Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil
Society, he must be considered as a subject of the
Governor of the Universe... Religion... is the basis
and foundation of government." James Madison, 4th US
President, chief architect of the Constitution

"The Declaration of Independence first organized the
social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's
mission upon earth and laid the corner stone of human
government upon the first precepts of Christianity."
John Quincy Adams, 6th US President

"The bible is the rock on which our Republic rest."
Andrew Jackson, 7th US President

"I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take
all of this upon reason that you can, and balance on
faith, and you will live and die a better man."
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

"I am sorry for the men who do not read the Bible
daily. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the
strength and the pleasure. I should be afraid to go
forward if I did not believe that there lay at the
foundation of all schooling and all our thought this
imcomparable and unimpeachable Word of God." Woodrow
Wilson, 28th US President

"Almost every man who has by his life work added to
the sum of human achievements of which the race is
proud - has based his life work largely upon the
teachings of the Bible." Theodore Roosevelt, 32nd US

"Religion is the only solid basis of good morals;
therefore, education should teach the precepts of
religion, and the duties of man towards God."
Gouveneur Morris, scribe / handwriter of the

"Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scuple not to
call him an enemy to this country." John
Whitherspoon, Continental Congress, Declaration of

"Providence has given to our people the choice of
their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the
privelege and interest of our Christian Nation to
select and prefer Christians for their rulers." John
Jay, 1st Supreme Court Justice

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often
that this great nation was founded, not by
religionist, but by Christians, not on religions but
on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this reason
peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum,
prosperity and freedom of worship here." Patrick
Henry, Continental Congress

"...convincing proofs I see... that God governs in the
affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the
ground without His notice, is it probable that an
empire can rise without His aid?" Benjamin Franklin,
Constitutional Convention,

"Of all the dipositions and habits which lead to
political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports... . Reason and experience
both forbid us to expect that national morality can
prevail in exclusion of religious principles."
Alexander Hamiltion, 1st Secretary of Treasurer

"The moral principles and precepts contained in the
Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil
constitutions and laws... . All the miseries and
evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition,
injustice, opppression, slavery, and war, proceed from
their despising or neglecting the precepts contained
in the Bible." Noah Webster, American Revolutionist,
Constitutional Convention, Dictionary

"There is not a community which cannot be purified,
redeemed and improved by a better knowledge and larger
application of the Bible to daily life." W.J. Bryan,
Democratic Orator and statesman, ran three times for
presidency and failed, nicknamed the Commoner

"I suspect that the future progress of the human race
will be determined by the circulation of the Bible."
Dr. R.A. Millikan, 1923 Nobel prize winner in physics

"Our ways; through a Christian President, finally
outlawed slavery in America with the world soon
following its lead. The great freedoms we enjoy are
the direct result of the Christian faith of our
predecessors. No great civilization or religion from
the world did it; it was our Christian Forefathers and
Foremothers and their open faith in God through the
Jesus Christ that did." William M.
Cooper, coopr2000@yahoo.com

Posted by: William Cooper at December 28, 2003 07:13 PM

Finally own easy already name lounges, but finally large several.

Posted by: Mariana at November 3, 2004 12:04 AM
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