Erath County voters to decide alcohol issue, state amendments

E-T staff report

Erath County voters will go to the polls on Tuesday for a Special Local Option Liquor Election. 

Election day is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

According to previous Empire-Tribune reports, an effort to gather more than 4,400 signatures to call an alcohol election in Erath County was deemed a success by a local group of business owners when the petition was submitted to the County Clerk in June, and the Erath County Commissioners Court ordered an election for the proposition.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 election is Oct. 4.

According to information from Texas Petition Strategies, the proposition to be submitted to voters would create one set of rules throughout the county supporting alcohol sales in area establishments. A group of local business owners and community leaders also supports expansion of current sales to include fine wine and package stores.

The group is proposing a change in regulations to remove a private club requirement on restaurants, officials with Texas Petition Strategies said. 

Currently, in order to sell alcohol, restaurants are required to operate as a private club, which can become costly according to the Texas Restaurant Association. 

“According to the Texas Restaurant Association, it can cost between $3,000 to $20,000 a year to be a private club," Court Cole, owner of Bull Nettle Bar & Grill, said previously.

State law required the group to gather 4,409 signatures of Erath County voters by June 4. The group submitted nearly 7,000 signatures with 4,802 being verified by the Erath County Clerk's office. Only residents of Erath County were eligible to sign the petition. 

Changing the county’s dry status for spirits (package liquor sales) and removing the private club rules for on-premise establishments could mean a nearly 40% increase in alcohol-related tax revenue, proposition supporters said.

In addition, voters will determine eight constitutional amendments that the Texas State Legislature referred to the ballot related to designated essential caregivers at nursing facilities, limitations on religious services, property taxes, the state judiciary, raffles at rodeo venues, and county authorization to issue bonds for infrastructure.

According to information from ballotpedia.org:

• Proposition 1: If passed, this amendment would (i) authorize professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct raffles at rodeo venues and (ii) include professional association-sanctioned rodeos in the definition of professional sports team.

Proposition 2: If passed, would amend the state constitution to: authorize counties to issue bonds to fund transportation and infrastructure projects in blighted areas; prohibit counties from allocating more than 65% of property tax revenue increases annually to repay the bonds; and prohibit counties from using the funds from the issuance of the bonds to build a toll road.

Proposition 3: If passed, this amendment would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.

Proposition 4: If passed, this amendment would make the following changes to eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge: requires candidates to be residents of Texas as well as citizens of the United States; requires 10 years of experience in Texas as a practicing lawyer or judge of a state or county court for candidates of the supreme court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, or a court of appeals; requires eight years of experience in Texas as a practicing lawyer or judge of a state or county court for candidates of a district court; disqualifies candidates if their license to practice law was revoked or suspended during experience requirement; and applies these requirements to individuals elected or appointed to a term beginning after Jan. 1, 2025.

Proposition 5: If passed, this amendment would authorize the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to accept and investigate complaints and reports against candidates running for state judicial office.

Proposition 6: If passed, this amendment would establish a right for residents of nursing or assisted living facilities to designate an essential caregiver, who cannot be prohibited from in-person visitation.

Proposition 7: If passed, this amendment would allow the surviving spouse of a disabled individual to maintain a homestead property tax limit if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the death and remains at the homestead.

Proposition 8: If passed, this amendment would allow the legislature to apply a homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of members of the military to those fatally injured in the line of duty.

Erath County voting locations

– Election Day: Nov. 2, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Erath County Courthouse, 100 W. Washington St., Stephenville

• Texas Bank, 988 Wolfe Nursery Road, Stephenville

• Dublin County Annex, 219 Grafton, Dublin

• Texas AgriLife, 1229 N. U.S. 281, Stephenville.