Article III. Legislative Department.
No person who at any time may have been a collector of taxes, or who may have been otherwise entrusted with public money, shall be eligible to the Legislature, or to any office of profit or trust under the State government, until he shall have obtained a discharge for the amount of such collections, or for all public moneys with which he may have been entrusted.
Laws may be enacted to provide for the establishment and creation of special districts to provide emergency services and to authorize the commissioners courts of participating counties to levy a tax on the ad valorem property situated in said districts not to exceed Ten Cents (10¢) on the One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) valuation for the support thereof; provided that no tax shall be levied in support of said districts until approved by a vote of the qualified voters residing therein. Such a district may provide emergency medical services, emergency ambulance services, rural fire prevention and control services, or other emergency services authorized by the Legislature.
On September 13, 2003, Texas voters approved S.J.R. 45, 78th Legislature, Regular Session, 2003, to repeal Texas Constitution Article VIII, Section 48(d). Effective September 1, 2003, S.B. 1021, 78th Legislature, Regular Session, 2003, converted rural fire prevention districts to emergency services districts.
The legislature, by law, may provide for the creation, operation, and financing of jail districts and may authorize each district to issue bonds and other obligations and to levy an ad valorem tax on property located in the district to pay principal of and interest on the bonds and to pay for operation of the district. An ad valorem tax may not be levied and bonds secured by a property tax may not be issued until approved by the qualified electors of the district voting at an election called and held for that purpose.
(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the Legislature shall have no power to authorize any county, city, town or other political corporation or subdivision of the State to lend its credit or to grant public money or thing of value in aid of, or to any individual, association or corporation whatsoever, or to become a stockholder in such corporation, association or company. However, this section does not prohibit the use of public funds or credit for the payment of premiums on nonassessable property and casualty, life, health, or accident insurance policies and annuity contracts issued by a mutual insurance company authorized to do business in this State.
(b) Under legislative provision any county, political subdivision of a county, number of adjoining counties, or political subdivision of the State, or defined district now or hereafter to be described and defined within the State of Texas, and which may or may not include, towns, villages or municipal corporations, upon a vote of two thirds majority of the voting qualified voters of such district or territory to be affected thereby may issue bonds or otherwise lend its credit in any amount not to exceed one-fourth of the assessed valuation of the real property of such district or territory, except that the total bonded indebtedness of any city or town shall never exceed the limits imposed by other provisions of this Constitution, and levy and collect such taxes to pay the interest thereon and provide a sinking fund for the redemption thereof, as the Legislature may authorize, and in such manner as it may authorize the same, for the following purposes to wit:
(1) The improvement of rivers, creeks, and streams to prevent overflows, and to permit of navigation thereof, or irrigation thereof, or in aid of such purposes.
(2) The construction and maintenance of pools, lakes, reservoirs, dams, canals and waterways for the purposes of irrigation, drainage or navigation, or in aid thereof.
(3) The construction, maintenance and operation of macadamized, graveled or paved roads and turnpikes, or in aid thereof.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection (b) of this Section, bonds may be issued by any county in an amount not to exceed one-fourth of the assessed valuation of the real property in the county, for the construction, maintenance, and operation of macadamized, graveled, or paved roads and turnpikes, or in aid thereof, upon a vote of a majority of the voting qualified voters of the county, and without the necessity of further or amendatory legislation. The county may levy and collect taxes to pay the interest on the bonds as it becomes due and to provide a sinking fund for redemption of the bonds.
(d) Any defined district created under this section that is authorized to issue bonds or otherwise lend its credit for the purposes stated in Subdivisions (1) and (2) of Subsection (b) of this section may engage in fire-fighting activities and may issue bonds or otherwise lend its credit for fire-fighting purposes as provided by law and this constitution.
(e) A county, city, town, or other political corporation or subdivision of the state may invest its funds as authorized by law.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution, the legislature may provide for the creation of programs and the making of loans and grants of public money, other than money otherwise dedicated by this constitution to use for a different purpose, for the public purposes of development and diversification of the economy of the state, the elimination of unemployment or underemployment in the state, the stimulation of agricultural innovation, the fostering of the growth of enterprises based on agriculture, or the development or expansion of transportation or commerce in the state. Any bonds or other obligations of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state that are issued for the purpose of making loans or grants in connection with a program authorized by the legislature under this section and that are payable from ad valorem taxes must be approved by a vote of the majority of the registered voters of the county, municipality, or political subdivision voting on the issue. An enabling law enacted by the legislature in anticipation of the adoption of this amendment is not void because of its anticipatory character.
(a) Upon the vote of a majority of the qualified voters so authorizing, a county or road district may collect an annual tax for a period not exceeding five (5) years to create a fund for constructing lasting and permanent roads and bridges or both. No contract involving the expenditure of any of such fund shall be valid unless, when it is made, money shall be on hand in such fund.
(b) At such election, the Commissioners' Court shall submit for adoption a road plan and designate the amount of special tax to be levied; the number of years said tax is to belevied; the location, description, and character of the roads and bridges; and the estimated cost thereof. The funds raised by such taxes shall not be used for purposes other than those specified in the plan submitted to the voters. Elections may be held from time to time to extend or discontinue said plan or to increase or diminish said tax. The Legislature shall enact laws prescribing the procedure hereunder.
(c) The provisions of this section shall apply only to Harris County and road districts therein.
The Legislature shall have no power to grant, or to authorize any county or municipal authority to grant, any extra compensation, fee or allowance to a public officer, agent, servant or contractor, after service has been rendered, or a contract has been entered into, and performed in whole or in part; nor pay, nor authorize the payment of, any claim created against any county or municipality of the State, under any agreement or contract, made without authority of law.
The Legislature shall have no power to release or extinguish, or to authorize the releasing or extinguishing, in whole or in part, the indebtedness, liability or obligation of any corporation or individual, to this State or to any county or defined subdivision thereof, or other municipal corporation therein, except delinquent taxes which have been due for a period of at least ten years.
No constitutional provision authorizes a taxing unit to reduce delinquent taxes on real property that has hazardous waste improperly disposed on it. Texas Constitution Article III, Section 55, prohibits a political subdivision of the state from releasing or extinguishing all or part of a person's delinquent tax liability. Taxing units may not agree to settle for an amount of delinquent taxes that is less than the amount actually due. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-96-099 (1996).
A county tax assessor-collector may not establish a "tax clearance" account in which excess property tax payments may be deposited and then withdrawn to offset those property tax payments which are less than the amount imposed. Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. JM-536 (1986).
(a) The Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, pass any local or special law, authorizing:
(1) the creation, extension or impairing of liens;
(2) regulating the affairs of counties, cities, towns, wards or school districts;
(3) changing the names of persons or places;
(4) changing the venue in civil or criminal cases;
(5) authorizing the laying out, opening, altering or maintaining of roads, highways, streets or alleys;
(6) relating to ferries or bridges, or incorporating ferry or bridge companies, except for the erection of bridges crossing streams which form boundaries between this and any other State;
(7) vacating roads, town plats, streets or alleys;
(8) relating to cemeteries, grave-yards or public grounds not of the State;
(9) authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children;
(10) locating or changing county seats;
(11) incorporating cities, towns or villages, or changing their charters;
(12) for the opening and conducting of elections, or fixing or changing the places of voting;
(13) granting divorces;
(14) creating offices, or prescribing the powers and duties of officers, in counties, cities, towns, election or school districts;
(15) changing the law of descent or succession;
(16) regulating the practice or jurisdiction of, or changing the rules of evidence in any judicial proceeding or inquiry before courts, justices of the peace, sheriffs, commissioners, arbitrators or other tribunals, or providing or changing methods for the collection of debts, or the enforcing of judgments, or prescribing the effect of judicial sales of real estate;
(17) regulating the fees, or extending the powers and duties of aldermen, justices of the peace, magistrates or constables;
(18) regulating the management of public schools, the building or repairing of school houses, and the raising of money for such purposes;
(19) fixing the rate of interest;
(20) affecting the estates of minors, or persons under disability;
(21) remitting fines, penalties and forfeitures, and refunding moneys legally paid into the treasury;
(22) exempting property from taxation;
(23) regulating labor, trade, mining and manufacturing;
(24) declaring any named person of age;
(25) extending the time for the assessment or collection of taxes, or otherwise relieving any assessor or collector of taxes from the due performance of his official duties, or his securities from liability;
(26) giving effect to informal or invalid wills or deeds;
(27) summoning or empanelling grand or petit juries;
(28) for limitation of civil or criminal actions;
(29) for incorporating railroads or other works of internal improvements; or
(30) relieving or discharging any person or set of persons from the performance of any public duty or service imposed by general law.
(b) In addition to those laws described by Subsection (a) of this section in all other cases where a general law can be made applicable, no local or special law shall be enacted; provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the Legislature from passing:
(1) special laws for the preservation of the game and fish of this State in certain localities; and
(2) fence laws applicable to any subdivision of this State or counties as may be needed to meet the wants of the people.
The Legislature shall have the power to pass such laws as may be necessary to enable all counties, cities, towns, villages, and other political subdivisions of this State to provide Workman's Compensation Insurance, including the right to provide its own insurance risk, for all employees of the political subdivision as in its judgment is necessary or required; and the Legislature shall provide suitable laws for the administration of such insurance in the counties, cities, towns, villages, or political subdivisions of this State and for the payment of the costs, charges and premiums on such policies of insurance and the benefits to be paid thereunder.
(a) The Legislature may by special statute provide for consolidation of governmental offices and functions of government of any one or more political subdivisions comprising or located within any county. Any such statute shall require an election to be held within the political subdivisions affected thereby with approval by a majority of the voters in each of these subdivisions, under such terms and conditions as the Legislature may require.
(b) The county government, or any political subdivision(s) comprising or located therein, may contract one with another for the performance of governmental functions required or authorized by this Constitution or the Laws of this State, under such terms and conditions as the Legislature may prescribe. No person acting under a contract made pursuant to this Subsection (b) shall be deemed to hold more than one office of honor, trust or profit or more than one civil office of emolument. The term "governmental functions," as it relates to counties, includes all duties, activities and operations of statewide importance in which the county acts for the State, as well as of local importance, whether required or authorized by this Constitution or the Laws of this State.