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Texas lawmaker files resolution to place constitutional amendment protecting abortion on ballot

Unlike in some states – like Kansas and Missouri – amendments in Texas have to get through the state legislature in order to make it to voters.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, Texas State Rep. James Talarico filed a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment addressing reproductive care.

The resolution would limit the Texas Legislature's ability to pass laws prohibiting abortion, with an amendment to the state constitution. 

HJR 56 was submitted on Nov. 29 and states the proposed amendment would be brought before Texas voters in November 2023 for them to decide on the matter. 

Talarico shared the news in a tweet, saying Republican states like Kansas and Kentucky have approved amendments in this manner. 

"In August, the people of Kansas voted to legalize abortion. In November, the people of Kentucky voted to legalize abortion. Let's make Texas next," he tweeted. 

But in Texas, the constitutional amendment process is different. 

In order for amendments to get on a ballot and placed before voters, they have to go through the Legislature. It's not like other states, where if voters can gather enough signatures on a petition, the issue gets put on the ballot. 

The Texas House and Senate have to approve a measure and also approve a joint resolution with a two-thirds majority to put it on the ballot. The joint resolution is what decides the ballot language, and then the Legislature can call for an election on the amendment.

The Texas Constitution has been amended more than 500 times in its 146-year history. Most recently, voters approved two amendments in May that dealt with property taxes.

Rep. Talarico's abortion measure would need the approval of both the House and the Senate with a two-thirds vote, and only then could voters weigh in. With Republicans in the majority, it is unlikely to pass. 

The 88th Texas Legislative session begins on Jan. 10, 2023.

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