Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Are you propositioning me?

This November, Texas has no less than 9 propositions on the ballot. I'm not sure if anyone is actually interested besides me, but I figured I could use this space to collect my thoughts on each amendment and determine which way I'm going to vote. Plus, it's a great way for me to procrastinate and still feel like I'm accomplishing something.

So, without further ado, the propositions and their ballot language, taken from the state voter guide, as well as my personal take. (It's a long post, so feel free to skip the amendments you don't care about, which may be all 9):

  • Prop. 1: "The constitutional amendment creating the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund and authorizing grants of money and issuance of obligations for financing the relocation, rehabilitation, and expansion of rail facilities."

    Works for me. Texas does have a significant number of rail facilities (as I discovered in my well-documented trek across east Texas) and so I imagine rehabilitating them is a good thing. Then again, expansion I'm not so sure about. This is the 21st century, right? Ultimately, the libertarian capitalist in me is thinking it might be better to let the private sector recognize the benefits of improved railroads and let them sort it out. The bleeding-heart liberal in me acknowledges the environmental factor, but doesn't think it significant enough to merit such rampant spending. Right now, that's where I'm at on this one.

  • Prop. 2: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

    A no-brainer if I ever heard one. If anyone currently reading this blog doubts which way I'm going to vote on this one, they probably just randomly happened by this site. (In which case, I direct them to some earlier posts to clarify.)

    (And if you'll indulge me in a side point, I'd like to point you to an infuriating article that claims the only counterargument to the marriage amendment is that it is bigoted and homophobic. Um, wrong. Even though the amendment is bigoted and homophobic, my argument against it is that no government, local, state, or federal, has any business defining what constitutes a marriage. Period.)

    (It is also worth noting that the article itself is rather bigoted and homophobic, though I agree that the term "homophobia" is something of a misnomer. I could go on and on about it, but I'd probably be saying things everyone has heard before, so I won't expound unless my readers request it.)

  • Prop. 3: "The constitutional amendment clarifying that certain economic development programs do not constitute a debt."

    Could that be any more ambiguous? "Certain economic development programs", eh? Thanks, mind pointing out which ones?

    The vagueness of the ballot language on this one is so frustrating I can't stand it. Basically, a single court case seems to have catalyzed an entire state constitutional amendment, and I don't see why legislation won't suffice.

  • Prop. 4: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the denial of bail to a criminal defendant who violates a condition of the defendant's release pending trial."

    This one seems fishy to me. Hmm, you mean we deny bail to someone who violates the terms of his bail? Seems pretty obvious to me. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of anything concerning defendant's rights in Texas. Must study this one further.

    Nope, that's pretty much it. This seems like a valid way to protect victims, but I worry that it may poorly define what constitutes a "violation". It's a real judgment call here. (No pun intended.)

  • Prop. 5: "The constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to define rates of interest for commercial loans."

    Yet another case of misleading ballot language. Initially, I was inclined to vote "no", as I'd rather have banks making decisions about their loan interest rates than legislatures. However, upon further review this actually allows the Legislature to exempt commercial loans from state-imposed maximum interest rates. So does this mean the state defines interest rates, as the ballot language says, or allows banks to define them, as the explanation says.

    The analysis clarifies, and the explaining language is more accurate (though, sadly, not what the voters will see.) As commercial businesses will tend to have a greater sense of their available loan options than private citizens, I see no reason why this amendment shouldn't go through. Banks having to compete for business should yield fair interest rates.

  • Prop. 6: "The constitutional amendment to include one additional public member and a constitutional county court judge in the membership of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct."

    Um, okay. Sure. Sounds good to me. "The more the merrier," I always say.

  • Prop. 7: "The constitutional amendment authorizing line-of-credit advances under a reverse mortgage."

    I really don't understand this one fully enough to provide a good opinion. If anyone with a greater knowledge of that area wants to offer advice, I'm all ears.

  • Prop. 8: "The constitutional amendment providing for the clearing of land titles by relinquishing and releasing any state claim to sovereign ownership or title to interest in certain land in Upshur County and in Smith County."

    This amendment is very specific to its location. Generally, I'm inclined to believe that the land is being held in "good faith". I'm completely unclear as to why an amendment to the state constitution is necessary here, but right now I'm in favor.

  • Prop. 9: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a six-year term for a board member of a regional mobility authority."

    I'm torn on this one, because I agree with both the "for" argument that cites stability and the "against" argument that worries about accountability. I guess I'm inclined to think that board members of a regional mobility authority won't be particularly corrupt, but who knows?

Okay, so I lost a little steam there at the end. The bottom line, as you've likely noticed, is most voters aren't really going to have a clue how to vote on most of these issues, because the language that will appear on the ballot provides little information and is even misleading at times. I intended to keep my comments mostly smartass in nature (as is my way), but naturally strayed into some legitimate analysis. My final take, Texas will likely pass the marriage amendment overwhelmingly (much to my chagrin) and as for the others, I have no sense of which way they will go.

Song lyric of the day:
"Your insecurity pollutes your path to purity
But I don't know if you feel this way all the time
Hear me: I don't think you're right
I know you've got nothing to prove"
- Caroline's Spine, Nothing to Prove


Blogger EQ said...

The U.S. Government is the nation's largest provider of financial assistance to women & minority owned small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is Congressionally mandated to assist the nation?s small businesses in meeting their financing needs. The SBA has small business loan programs and services to meet most small business needs. More information on U.S. Government Small Business Loans can be found at **www.SBASmallBusinessLoans.com**

How do Government SBA Small Business Loans work?

When a small business owner applies to a lending institution for a business loan, the lender reviews the application and decides if it merits a busiuness loan or if it requires an SBA guaranty. SBA backing on the business loan is then requested by the lender. In guaranteeing the business loan, the SBA assures the lender that, in the event the borrower does not repay the loan, the government will reimburse the lender for its loss. By providing this guaranty, the Small Business Administration helps tens of thousands of small business owners get financing they would not otherwise obtain.

How much money can I borrow?

Here are a few examples of what you can get from SBA small business loans programs:

7(a) Loan Guaranty Program

The 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program is the SBA's primary small business loan program. A maximum loan amount of $2 million has been established for 7(a) business loans.

Low Documentation Loan (SBALowDoc)

SBALowDoc is the SBA?s quick and easy program that provides a guaranty on small business loans of $150,000 or less. Once you have met your lender?s requirements for credit, the lender may request an SBALowDoc guaranty for up to 85 percent of the loan amount. You complete the front of a one-page SBA application, and the lender completes the back. At SBALowDoc centers, the agency processes completed applications within 36 hours.


This method makes it easier and faster for lenders to provide small business loans of $250,000 or less. The SBA provides a rapid response through its PLP processing center in Sacramento, Calif.? within 36 hours of receiving the complete application package. Lenders use their own procedures to approve and service the loans.


The CommunityExpress pilot program is designed to spur economic development and job creation in untapped rural and inner city communities by providing loans and technical assistance. Loan proceeds may be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or real-estate acquisitions.
To be eligible for CommunityExpress, current or prospective small businesses must be located in low- and moderate-income urban and rural areas.

While CommunityExpress is similar to SBAExpress, here are some differences:

? CommunityExpress focuses on predesignated geographic areas that primarily low- and moderate-income urban and rural areas.

? The maximum loan amount under CommunityExpress is $250,000.

? CommunityExpress lenders, together with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, provide hands-on technical training and support, both before and after loan closings, through community-based, nonprofit NCRC member organizations.

7(m) Microloan Program

The SBA?s Microloan Program provides very small loans up to $35,000 to small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers through a network of locally based intermediary lenders. In addition to making the loans, the intermediaries provide management and technical assistance to microborrowers and potential microborrowers.

What can I use the loan proceeds for?

You can use an SBA small business loan to:

? expand or renovate facilities;
? purchase machinery, equipment, fixtures and leasehold improvements;
? finance receivables and augment working capital;
? refinance existing debt (with compelling reason);
? finance seasonal lines of credit;
? construct commercial buildings; and/or
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How do I repay the loan?

The length of time for repayment depends on the use of the loan proceeds and the ability of your small business to repay the loan.The term is usually 5 to 10 years for working capital, and up to 25 years for fixed assets such as the purchase or major renovation of real estate or purchase of equipment. There are no balloon payments, prepayment penalties, application fees or points permitted with these small business loans. Repayment plans may be tailored to each individual small business.

How do I get started?

You submit a business loan application to a lender for initial review. If the lender approves the business loan subject to an SBA guaranty, a copy of the loan application and a credit analysis are forwarded by the lender to the nearest SBA office. After SBA approval, the lending institution closes the business loan and disburses the funds; you make monthly loan payments directly to the lender. As with any loan, you are responsible for repaying the full amount of the loan. Visit **www.SBASmallBusinessLoans.com** for more info.

October 31, 2005 6:57 AM  
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