The Texas State Legislature has referred its first constitutional amendment to the ballot for the election on November 5, 2019. The constitutional amendment, which received unanimous approval in the state legislature, would allow law enforcement agencies to transfer a dog, horse, or another animal to the animal’s handler if the transfer is in the animal’s best interest. State Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-22) and Jane Nelson (R-12) proposed the constitutional amendment.
Under the state’s Local Government Code, a retiring police dog or working animal is classified as salvage or surplus property and, according to code, surplus or salvage property can be auctioned, donated to a civic or charitable organization, or destroyed. According to the Texas Senate Research Center, the existing Local Government Code makes transferring a retiring animal to its handler difficult.
While the constitutional amendment is the first referred to the 2019 ballot, the Texas State Legislature generally refers multiple amendments to odd-year ballots. The average number of amendments on the ballot was 13, with a range of seven to 22, between 1995 and 2017.
The legislature is expected to adjourn on May 27, 2019, and additional amendments can be referred before adjournment. Legislators proposed 216 amendments in 2019. 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.