OPINION: Our picks: We offer our suggestions on proposed amendments

Early voting ends Friday in the general election that will decide the fate of eight proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Live voting is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

We’re under no illusions regarding the propositions; most will pass — not because of their merits, but because traditionally, voter turnout is so low that just about the only people who participate in these referendums are those motivated to support certain measures. We hope that the addition of local items on some ballots will increase participation.

Over the years low turnout has inspired state legislators to misuse the state’s governing document. Knowing that most measures get passed, the lawmakers have used the document to plant controversial measures so that they are more difficult to repeal by requiring statewide referendums rather than simple legislation. This has made the Texas Constitution one of the longest and most cumbersome in the country, with more than 500 amendments already having been added.

We offer our thoughts on four of the measures here, with the remainder to be evaluated on Friday.

Proposition 1: No. This measure would allow rodeo events to hold raffles to benefit charity. We support such raffles, but prefer a more general item that covers other events as well.

The proposal is a partial fix to another unnecessary amendment that was passed in 2015, which allows such raffles at professional team sporting events. Rodeos aren’t team sports, so they aren’t covered by the current amendment and thus would violate state gambling laws. Those laws should be changed rather than littering the Constitution with specific amendments for rodeos, tennis tournaments, auto races and whatever other activity comes up.

Prop. 2: No. This would enable counties to issue bonds to renovate blighted, unproductive or underdeveloped areas.

We’re certainly aware of the land at the expressway and Ware Road in McAllen, which has become one of the most successful retail centers in the Rio Grande Valley. There was a time when the city couldn’t give that land away, and its investment in the convention center drew major investment. Such success stories are rare, however, and taxpayers’ money should be used to provide needed services, not land speculation; that’s what private developers are for.

Prop. 4: Yes. This would strengthen requirements for state district judges from four years to eight years of experience as a practicing attorney or judge. and  enough. Appeals and Supreme Court judges’ requirements would rise from five to 10 years of experience. Requiring more experience would raise the chances that our judges have seen more varied cases, which could help them make more knowledgeable decisions.

Prop. 5: This would authorize the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate candidates for judicial positions in addition to actual judges. That’s what the Ethics Commission is for; the Judicial Conduct Commission should focus on sitting judges and not be used to dig up dirt on candidates who might never be elected.

Other proposed amendments will be reviewed Friday.