Texans to vote on keeping churches open during future pandemic

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Early voting for eight state constitutional amendments began Oct. 18 and one amendment up for a vote by the citizens of Texas would stop religious institutions from being closed in the event of another health crisis.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, churches stopped offering in-person services.  Now, Proposition three would keep that from happening again.

“[Proposition three] says that the state will not send any type of directive that would cause that to occur,” said Attorney Rick Barrera.

Proponents of the measure say it is part of people’s federal first amendment rights to attend mass and they want to ensure that another pandemic won’t get in the way of that. 

“Constitutional amendment is the highest-grade law that can be put into place. It is taken the most serious when it comes to enforcement of courts,” Barrera said.

Amending the state constitution would stop the state or counties from banning worshipping in person, but Barrera said that if another pandemic should happen- federal orders would take over.

“When it comes to the conflict between the two, there’s something called federal preemption, and federal preemption would be the ruling of the day,” Barrera said. “Especially when it comes to a health and safety matter.”

Proposition three is one of eight constitutional amendments Texans will vote on. 

Other propositions include things like counties being able to raise money for infrastructure and oversight for judge elections. 

Barrera said elected officials need to educate the public over the issues in order to be better informed. 

“To go out above and beyond, spend money on getting the word out. Pamphlets, mailers, commercials. People need to know what they’re voting on,” he said.

Barrera said that if anyone wanted to be better informed about the amendments up for a vote, they could contact his office at (956) 428-2822.

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