Filing window for Texas legislators to introduce proposed 2019 constitutional amendments ended on Friday

Members of the Texas State Legislature filed 213 constitutional amendments for the 2019 regular legislative session. Legislators were allowed to file constitutional amendments through March 8, 2019. The 2019 legislative session is expected to adjourn on May 27, 2019. Amendments approved by the legislature would appear on the ballot for voter consideration on November 5, 2019.

Republicans, who control 57 percent of state legislative seats in Texas, filed 111 (52.1 percent) of the constitutional amendments. Democrats filed 102 (47.9 percent) of the constitutional amendments.

Between 2009 and 2017, an average of 187 constitutional amendments were filed during regular legislative sessions. The state legislature approved an average of nine constitutional amendments during regular legislative sessions. Therefore, the average rate of certification during regular legislative sessions was 4.7 percent. If the average is applied to the 213 constitutional amendments filed in 2019, 10 would be expected to make the ballot.

In Texas, citizens do not have the power to initiate statewide initiatives or referendums. Voters rejected a constitutional amendment to provide for the initiative and referendum process in 1914. The Texas State Legislature can refer statewide ballot measures, in the form of constitutional amendments, to the ballot. Texas is one of 16 states that requires a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the Texas House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Texas Senate, assuming no vacancies.

Voters have approved 145 of 159 (91.2 percent) of constitutional amendments on the ballot between 1995 and 2018. Turnout at odd-year general elections in Texas averaged 11 percent —39 percentage points lower than the average turnout at general elections in even-numbered years.