Citywide Propositions and a County Measure All Approved in Tuesday's Elections

Houston and Harris County voters were supporting two citywide and one countywide proposition in early returns.
Houston and Harris County voters were supporting two citywide and one countywide proposition in early returns. Screenshot
Several of the Harris County Health system's hospitals can expect to see construction commence as Harris County voters signaled their approval of  $2.5 billion going toward funding a series of proposed expansions and renovations.

The county's hospital district's Proposition A received 72 percent of the votes, or 307,309. This widespread voter support indicates that Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital will have the ability to receive upgrades – including a Level 1-capable trauma center and upgrades – as will Ben Taub Hospital.

The county will also add more health clinics to its current system and update existing ones.

Medical professionals that supported the measure receiving voter approval said it was essential that Proposition A pass as it constructs a third trauma center, which is needed in the Texas Medical Center that serves nearly 5 million patients with only two functioning level-1 trauma centers.

Proposition A – the first of the two citywide measures – which will change how council members get an agenda item on the City Council agenda was approved. In the past, a minimum of three council members was required to call a meeting so a quorum of the council could take a vote to add an item to the agenda.

Now, that same minimum will instead be allowed to submit a written request to get a proposed item added to the council agenda. Houston voters agreed to give more authority to city council members in an otherwise strong-mayor city government system.

Despite some political experts saying that voters would be less likely to pay attention to the two citywide propositions, Proposition A collected the most voter approval with 83 percent of the vote total or 192,326.

Proposition B will increase the city’s representation on the Houston-Galveston Area Council. In the final tally it had 141,324 votes for the passage of the citywide measure and 75,913 against it.

The H-GAC is a regional organizing body responsible for distributing federal funds for ongoing regional projects. A group of residents who launched the “Fair For Houston" campaign spearheaded efforts to get the measure on the ballot to allow residents to vote for an increase in the number of Houston seats on this governing board.

The proposition will add to the representation of Houston in alignment with the city’s population. Houston and Harris County residents were represented by two seats each on the board despite the city and county making up 57 percent of the region H-GAC covers.

The measure will also set a precedent that the city requires its participation in organizations such as H-GAC if representation and voting privileges are proportional to its population. If not, Houston is allowed to pull out of being a part of any group if it cannot attain its voting power within 60 days after City Council certifies the results, which has historically happened in mid-December.

These propositions were expected to pass despite being down-ballot races and generating small voter turnout. Local political experts said this was because they did build the support of small voter groups that campaigned for them, coupled with no real outward opposition to either the city or county measures.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.