Beyond candidates: 2020 Texas primary ballot propositions

Candidates aren’t the only thing Texas voters will find on their ballots on February 18 when early voting starts for the 2020 Texas Republican and Democratic primary elections. Each party also puts forth a slate of ballot propositions for their voters to weigh in on.

In many elections ballot propositions pertain to bonds, referendums on local ordinances, or even constitutional amendments. But what are ballot propositions with regard to primary elections? Perhaps the best definition I’ve seen comes from the Republican Party of Texas website, which states as follows:

“Keep in mind that [ballot propositions are] an opinion poll of [primary] voters and not a policy referendum. When you vote YES or NO, you are telling us what you think should happen. You are not voting to make a law but merely saying you agree or disagree with the statement.”

Each party, Republican and Democratic, has put forth a set of value statements and is asking those who vote in the party’s primary to give their opinion on those statements. The Democrats have styled their ballot propositions as a “Texas Bill of Rights” containing 11 broad statements covering many policy areas. The Republicans have offered up 10 more narrowly tailored ballot propositions to their voters.

This year, each party’s slate of ballot propositions includes one or more statements related directly or indirectly to public education. The Texas Republican ballot for 2020 includes three such statements:

  • Republican Party Ballot Proposition #1:Texas should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools.
  • Republican Party Ballot Proposition #3:Texas should ban the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, which allows your tax dollars to be spent on lobbyists who work against the taxpayer.” This recommendation aims to prevent governmental entities from paying their staff or contractors to advocate for their interests. Were such a ban to be enacted, it could restrict school districts and public charter schools from paying lobbyists to advocate for public education, and it could also prevent those entities from paying dues or fees to any outside organizations that hire their own lobbyists.
  • Republican Party Ballot Proposition #5:Texas parents or legal guardians of public school children under the age of 18 should be the sole decision makers for all their children’s healthcare decisions including, but not limited to, psychological assessment and treatment, contraception, and sex education.” This statement is aimed at Texas public schools and other public and private institutions that exercise varying levels of involvement in “children’s healthcare decisions.”

View the complete list of Texas Republican Party primary ballot propositions for 2020 here.

Unlike their Republican counterparts who have proposed multiple recommendations on very specific facets of the public school system, Texas Democrats have presented only one broad question to their voters with respect to education:

  • Democratic Party Ballot Proposition #2: “Right to a 21st Century Public Education: Should everyone in Texas have the right to high-quality public education from pre-k to 12th grade, and affordable college and career training without the burden of crushing student loan debt?” This broad proposition addresses not only the quality of public education in grades pre-K through 12, but also affordability of post-secondary training.

View the complete list of Texas Democratic Party primary ballot propositions for 2020 here.

Remember that the propositions on your primary ballot have no force of law and are merely a “poll” of sorts to determine the views of a party’s voters. However, they are important in shaping the party platform and the issues or initiatives that elected officials from that party are likely to prioritize.

We hope all Texans who care about public education head the polls during the upcoming primary election; and when you do, be sure to vote not only on which candidates you hope to see on the general election ballot this November, but also on your party’s propositions that will help shape the values of the party those candidates will represent.

Early voting for the 2020 Texas primaries runs from Tuesday, February 18, through Friday, February 28. Election day is Tuesday, March 3.

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20 thoughts on “Beyond candidates: 2020 Texas primary ballot propositions

  1. Michelle Regan

    Why is there no fiscal information on the propositions? The limited information makes it difficult to make an informed opinion. League of Women Voters doesn’t even have info on the propositions. Is that because there are too many? Will there be more information coming after the primary? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Mitchell, CAE

      Hi, Michelle. Thanks for your questions. I’m not sure what type of “fiscal information” you are seeking. Since these are proposals merely to determine the state party platforms, all information is provided by the state Republican or Democratic parties. Also, unlike constitutional amendments, bond measures, or other types of ballot propositions you might see in elections, the propositions from the two parties are non-binding, philosophical statements only, which do not carry any fiscal impact to the state or a political subdivision. I hope this helps clarify. For additional information, I’d suggest contacting the two state parties directly.

      Jennifer Mitchell, ATPE GR Director

      Reply
      1. Linda

        I believe she is asking for physical information, something tangible that can be read in whole of what the propositions are for both, Republican and Democrat, to have a complete understanding of what the propositions are that we are voting for. I too,would like to read each proposition in whole as to what they are really referring to. As it stands, I have no idea what a yes or no vote entails. No, I did not vote for I did not have enough information, nor did I like any of the candidates that are or may run for President.

        Reply
  2. C.R.

    Can you explain the other ballot propositions as well, in addition to the ones you provided as examples? The Republican and Democratic webpages referenced don’t go into any details.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Mitchell, CAE

      Thank you for your question. Since Teach the Vote focuses only on public education, the ATPE lobbyists have not analyzed in detail the ballot propositions that pertain to other issues, such as healthcare, housing, border protection, etc. We recommend that you call or email the Texas Republican and Democratic Party offices to request additional information about their respective propositions.

      Jennifer Mitchell, ATPE GR Director

      Reply
    2. Ricardo Montes

      It’s revolting how some of the propositions were written. Many propositions could be misinterpreted! Proposition 1 and 2 are two examples. They could have been written as follows: Proposition 1, “Texas will allow prayer in school.” Proposition 2. “Texas will not restrict the right to bear arms.”

      I am sick am tired of trickery and politicians not speaking plainly.

      Reply
      1. Holly Sheffield

        I was thinking the exact same thing! I was so confused with the wording. If it was true or false, that would have been better. I think they also should have written “prayer will be allowed in school”. Plain and simple. I hope I cast my opinion correctly!
        This is deception at its best!!!

        Reply
        1. joanne

          As I read the question, I would simply address it as if some were asking me if I agreed or not. So #1 would read as “Yes, I agree with you…“Texas should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools.“

          Reply
        2. Tamara Taylort\

          “Allow” is different from “not restrict” — you can allow something with restrictions. In the case of prayer, we could restrict prayer to only prayers sanctioned by this or that religion — or in a community – sanctioned by this or that board member or preacher or rabbi or priest, etc.

          Using the most common, most vague word is exactly what creates problems with our laws and too many freedoms for politicians, IMO.

          Reply
    1. Jennifer Mitchell, CAE

      Excellent question. Based upon the wording of the proposition, we assume that the reference to “all their children’s healthcare decisions” would also include decisions about vaccinations. For additional information, however, I would suggest that you reach out to the Texas Republican Party.

      Jennifer Mitchell, ATPE GR Director

      Reply
  3. denis gondek

    once again, the sneaky way some bills are worded comes out yes means no, and no means yes.. are any of these propositions this way? the facts bear out You should say what you mean,and mean what you say. check out the FALSE Witness the republicans has gone thru the past years.

    Reply
  4. Jim E

    Marking the ballot yes on proposition 1 is a vote in favor of prayer in school? It is worded in a way that could easily be misinterpreted.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Mitchell, CAE

      Jim, thanks for your question. The wording of the ballot propositions can be a little confusing at times. For the Republican primary ballot, a “yes” vote on Proposition 1 would mean that you are telling the state Republican party leadership that you agree with the statement they have put on the ballot. So, in this case, a “yes” vote would mean you are telling the party that you agree that “Texas should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools.” A “no” vote would mean that you do not agree that “Texas should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools.” The double negative can be confusing, but just remember that you are telling the party leadership whether you or agree or disagree with the statements they have written on the ballot. I hope this helps lend some guidance. Thanks for your interest!

      Jennifer Mitchell, ATPE GR Director

      Reply
    2. Kyle Enderlin

      I see it as either way you are voting for prayer.
      “Texas should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools”
      Yes, you should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools
      No, you should not restrict or prohibit prayer in public schools
      The “not” cancels it out. Prop 1 is the only one that uses “not”

      Reply
  5. Tiana

    In the primaries the ballot propositions are only to gauge the party members stance on the issues. You are not voting one way or another, just want to make that clear.

    Reply
  6. Ilya Muromets

    If we give 1 illegal alien in this nation amnesty & a pathway to citizenship, we will destroy what this nation not only stands for , but we will destroy this nation’s sovereignty! We must contact our representatives in Congress to get the interpretation of the 16th Amendment to the US Supreme Court. This Amendment states that those who bear children on US soil , must be subject to the jurisdiction to this nation , in ALL ways, & NOT any other foreign nation. When illegal invaders arrive here, they are subject to the jurisdiction of the nation’s they invaded from! Not the US! It’s insane to think the authors of the 16th Amendment would be in favor of “invasion births” or “birther tourism” , to result in those children born here in that way, being able to claim automatic citizenship! Wake up from your lethargy, sane citizens of the US , & protest & contact your US representatives to get this Amendment clarified in the Supreme Court, NOW!

    Reply
    1. Larry S

      Thank you Ilya. I was on the fence but now am comfortable voting Yes, if only to counter your toxic position. Very helpful.

      Reply
  7. Karen C

    When you have people waiting line 7 hours to vote, why would you want to slow the process down like this? It makes no sense!!

    Reply

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