I am truly thrilled at the outcome and correct overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court. This ruling will certainly save many lives and I believe will serve our country and all its people well going forward.
There are many aspects to this decision and it will have a number of future consequences. I thought I would simply make a list of my thoughts as they stand right now and share them with you:
- What this means (and what it doesn’t mean) – This ruling simply acknowledges what has always been true. The Supreme Court does not have the authority to create rights out of thin air. This ruling doesn’t make abortion illegal in this country, but merely overturns a creation of a law by a body that does not actually have the authority to create laws. So essentially this puts the decision about life/abortions back in the hands of elected officials at both the state and federal level (where it always should have been). The Feds have never passed laws on this issue, so the laws that govern abortion in this country will be those created at the state level.
- Personal – When does a human life begin? Because, once life begins, then government has a role and truly a responsibility to protect innocent life. I fully acknowledge that this right is made exceedingly more complex by the location of that life and by the fact that this burden is 100% born by women.
- Texas – I am thankful that Texas had been preparing for months in advance of this ruling. By passing the “trigger ban” (thanks to my deskmate Giovanni Capriglione) during the 2021 legislative session, the state’s laws will begin fully protecting life 30 days from the date of the Dobbs decision. This law provides exceptions for the life of the mother as those very complex decisions should not be made by the state, but at the personal/family level.
- The country – It’s both important and truly sad that even after the overturning of Roe, many states in the country will still allow abortion until the moment before birth. These states align with only 6 countries around the world that allow abortions after 20 weeks. Let me say that again, out of over 200 nations in the world, the United States is one of 7 that allows abortion after 20 weeks. Even after this ruling.
- What’s next – For those who are thrilled with this decision, it is not the time to gloat. In addition to the sobering reality that much of the country will continue to perform third trimester abortions, we must also make sure we are prepared to help new families in our state and communities going forward. The state also prepared for this last session by expanding Medicaid benefits for new moms from 2 months to 6 months after birth. But government programs are a poor replacement for individual involvement in the lives of individuals in the time of need. Far too many times, I see people (including me) focusing on changing the world, when really we just need to be the change in the the life of one person.
Ultimately, this is an issue that has been and will continue to be difficult for the opposing sides to find common ground. If you believe that the unborn child is a clump of cells, then it will never make sense for government intervention in a woman’s healthcare decision. If, however, you believe that the unborn child is a person, then you will always believe that it is imperative for the government to intervene to protect that child’s life from being extinguished. I don’t see how that ever changes.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me as this issue will be one that we will no doubt be dealing with for a long, long time.
As always, please reach out to me or my staff if there is ever anything we can do for you.
I know it felt like we just had an election, but we have another one starting today when voters will have the opportunity to vote on two potential amendments to our state constitution. Early voting runs from April 25th through May 3rd and election day itself is on May 7th.
Both of the amendments up for consideration for this election deal with reducing property taxes. The ballot language may seem confusing so here is my take on the amendments–I hope you will consider voting “FOR” these propositions as you cast your ballot!
In plain English, Proposition 1 would lower the cap on taxable value (“freeze value”) for seniors and those with disabilities. If it passes, it will lower school district tax bills for seniors and those with disabilities. Proposition 2 raises the homestead exemption for homeowners from $25K to $40K so that they pay taxes on a smaller amount of their value.
As a reminder, for amendment proposals to make it onto the ballot, they must first be approved in the form of a Joint Resolution by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. It is difficult to get the necessary votes to get an amendment on the ballot. As such, most amendments are fairly non-controversial and easily approved by voters.
Both of the proposed constitutional amendments in this election were passed during the special sessions this past fall.
Additionally, I recently posted a fairly lengthy explainer on Facebook about why the huge increases in property appraisals do not mean commensurate huge increases in your property tax bills next year. We’ve included that post in the body of the newsletter below but the summary is this:
- The appraised value is just the first step in a 5-6 step process to eventually determine your total tax bill.
- Unless local taxing entities (county, city, school district) ask for voter approval, they WILL HAVE TO REDUCE TAX RATES substantially specifically because the values have gone up so much.
Please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns on these or other topics.