Commissioners vote support to precinct bill - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Commissioners vote support to precinct bill


An East Texas county commissioners court voted to support a proposed bill to amend part of the state constitution.

In front of about 30 people, the Upshur County commissioners heard arguments on whether or not to support a house joint resolution bill that would allow counties to create or eliminate precincts.

"Prior to 1999, counties had the freedom to set the number of constable and Justice of the Peace precincts according to the people's needs. All this action did today was voice our core support for the bill," says Upshur County Commissioner Precinct 2 Cole Hefner.

HJR103 would allow amendment to the state constitution to reduce or increase the number of precincts, justices of the peace, and constables.

But some aren't completely sold on the idea.

"It will give them the power to eliminate constable and JP positions or add to," says Upshur County Constable Precinct 2 Jason Weeks.

"There's always the possibility of corruption when you take the power of the vote from the hands of the people," says Precinct 1 Constable Gene Dolle.

Still, Hefner says that it allows the counties to meet the needs of their residents.

"All this does is give our county if it passes, and 60 other counties roughly in the state, the same freedoms to determine the needs of their people," Hefner says.

Written by state representative David Simpson, it allows counties to adjust for population, and save money.

One constable disagrees, though.

"Its misleading the dollar among that they say it would save, $230,000 is absolutely misleading," Weeks says.

Dolle say it gives commissioners power to arbitrarily eliminate.

"Three people could vote that precinct out, then a year or two down the road when they found somebody that was favorable to their ideals to run, they could recreate a precinct," Dolle says.

The court voted to support and the bill is currently in committee. If approved by the Texas legislature, the bill would go on the ballot in November.

To find out more, commissioners say you can read Article 5, Section 6a of the Texas State Constitution.

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