Proposition 5 would enable Texas seniors to use "reverse mortgages for purchase" to acquire a new residence. It would also require reverse mortgage lenders to expand currently required counseling to borrowers to include disclosure of the specific behaviors that can lead to foreclosure on a property.
Supporters suggest this proposition would save costs for seniors by allowing a reverse mortgage loan to be set up as part of a purchase rather than after a purchase to eliminate duplicative processes. Using a "reverse mortgage for purchase," the homeowner can occupy a new residence without making a single mortgage payment. This helps seniors relocate to other geographical areas or downsize to homes that better meet their needs.
Reverse mortgage loans are typically easier to qualify for than traditional loans, which have income and credit score requirements to support the borrower's ability to meet repayment commitments.
Those opposed suggested that all reverse mortgages are complex financial products. Surveys have found that consumers struggle to understand and make good decisions even after required counseling. Homeowners can lose a lifetime of home equity as a result of fraud, scams, misleading advertising, aggressive sales tactics and discriminatory practices sometimes associated with reverse mortgages. This risk increases significantly when state regulation and enforcement are weak.
As baby boomers consider the reverse mortgage market, their choices may put them at considerable risk at a time in their lives when making a financial recovery is unlikely.
It's a matter of "buyer beware." Seniors should certainly be capable of taking responsibility for their own actions. We support Proposition 5.
Proposition 7 would authorize a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.
Almost all Texas cities of more than 5,000 population have adopted a home rule or an independent city charter. A home rule city can pass any regulations or laws it deems necessary as long as they are consistent with the state constitution and statutes.
Section 11, Article XI, of the Texas Constitution prohibits a city with terms of office between two and four years from filling vacancies by appointment. These cities must fill vacancies by majority vote during a special election held within 120 days after the start of the vacancy.
The proposed constitutional amendment and its enabling bill HB 1372 would authorize a home rule city to provide in its charter a procedure other than a special election to fill a vacancy in its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.
Supporters suggest Proposition 7 would cut taxpayer costs. When an elected city official passes away or otherwise leaves office, the Constitution requires the city to hold a special election within 120 days even if only a few months remain in the term. Taxpayers pay thousands of dollars to hold special elections only a few months before a regular election. Also, this proposition would provide parity in election regulations. Vacancies for elected city officials with terms of office of less than two years can be filled by appointment. This proposition would allow vacancies to be filled by the same process for all elected officials. It would preserve democratic accountability because cities would have to hold elections as usual after the expiration of an appointed official's term.
Opponents say Proposition 7 might increase the opportunity for corruption by allowing city officials to appoint one another. They also suggest that voting and elections are the best way to ensure democratic accountability. The cost of special elections is a small price to pay to ensure accountability.
In this case, we oppose Proposition 7. It opens too many doors for potential corruption.
Proposition 8 on the ballot would remove from the Texas Constitution a 1960 amendment that authorized the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County with a maximum tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation of taxable property, a limit that is below all other counties in Texas.
Supporters say Hidalgo County is the largest Texas county without an operating hospital district and has the highest percentage without health insurance in the U.S. Local control will be returned to the residents of Hidalgo County in the same manner as every other county in Texas.
Detractors suggest that passage of Proposition 8 would increase the taxes for property owners in Hidalgo County since a hospital district could be created with a tax rate as high as 75 cents per $100 valuation of all property.
The reality is, health care costs are increasing for everyone. Hidalgo County residents should be offered the same health services as every other county. We support Proposition 8.
Proposition 9 on the Nov. 5 ballot would expand the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
It would allow the SCJC, at its discretion, to issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand or requirement that the person obtain additional training or education, as well as censure or formally recommend resignation or retirement.
Supporters of Proposition 9 believe it would lead to greater public accountability for judges and justices; continue to promote public confidence in the integrity, independence, competence and impartiality of the judiciary; and encourage judges to maintain high standards of conduct both on and off the bench.
Others argue that stronger measures than those provided by Proposition 9 are needed to reinforce the SCJC's authority to discipline judges and hold them accountable for judicial misconduct.