If you’re ready to cast your ballot for the May 7 election, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
For this election, voters will decide on two proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, both of which involve property taxes.
Read on for more details on the proposals and how to vote:
What to know before you go
Check if you are registered before heading to the polls here.
You'll need a valid photo ID to present at the polls.
Voters can head to any polling location in the county they live in to cast their ballot. There are more than 30 early voting locations in Travis County to cast a ballot. Wait times at polling locations can be found here.
Additional polling locations are in place on Election Day.
What you are voting on
The only local item on the ballot comes after a petition by Ground Game Texas won enough signatures.
Labeled Proposition A on the ballot, voters will decide on the decriminalizing of small amounts of weed and the banning of no-knock warrants in one single vote.
While less than 4 oz of weed is already decriminalized in Austin, the proposition would cement the decriminalization further by putting it in city code. This would mean police could still seize suspected marijuana, but they would not be able to charge most suspects for a marijuana offense.
And the ban on no-knock warrants would mean police could no longer utilize the option to get a warrant and show up unannounced. KUT reports there were three times last year no-knock warrants were used by Austin Police.
On the statewide items, two constitutional amendments will be on the ballot.
Proposition 1 would reduce schools' property tax bills imposed on disabled residents or those over the age of 65.
Proposition 2 would raise the homestead exemption Texans can take on their school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000.
- LIVE UPDATES: No lines at many East Austin voting sites on ... ›
- Election results: Prop A overwhelming rejected by Austin voters ›
- Election guide: Early voting begins for the March primaries - austonia ›
- Your voting guide for the primary elections in Austin - austonia ›
- Austin businesses reward you for voting early in Travis County ... ›
- Early voting guide: Voters decide on decriminalization of weed in ... ›
- HEB CEO Charles Butt pens letter in support of vote-by-mail - austonia ›
- Record-breaking heat continues to threaten ERCOT power capacity - austonia ›
By Reese Oxner
Texas is planning to add enough electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state to support 1 million electric vehicles with dozens of new stations to allow for easier long-distance travel.
In a draft plan released this month, the Texas Department of Transportation broke down a five-year plan to create a network of chargers throughout the state, starting along main corridors and interstate highways before building stations in rural areas.
The plan is to have charging stations every 50 miles along most non-business interstate routes.
In most other areas in the state, there will be charging stations within 70 miles, according to the plan. Each station is designed to have multiple stalls so there will likely be one available whenever someone stops to charge.
The chargers will be high-powered at 150kW, able to bring most electric vehicles from 10% to 80% in about half an hour, according to the report.
The funding is coming from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year, which is estimated to allocate about $408 million over five years to Texas for the purpose of expanding its electric vehicle charging network. No funds from the state budget will be used. Nationally, the goal is to create a network of 500,000 convenient and reliable electric vehicle chargers by 2030. In total from the infrastructure act, Texas is expected to receive about $35.44 billion over five years for roads, bridges, pipes, ports, broadband access and other projects.
Less than 1% of Texans’ registered vehicles are electric. As of May 31, there were 129,010 electric vehicles registered in Texas, according to the report.
“However, since 2020, the total number of electric vehicles across Texas has nearly tripled as more people adopt the technology,” TxDOT stated in its report. “With rapidly growing adoption rates, it is necessary to ensure Texas will be able to meet the demand of these new vehicles on the road.”
The state is gathering public comment on the plan, after which it will be finalized. To receive the funds, TxDOT must submit a finalized plan by Aug. 1 to the Federal Highway Administration.
Officials plan to award contracts for construction starting in January.
During the first year of implementation, Texas plans to add around 48 new locations to satisfy the 50-mile FHWA requirement. This is in addition to 27 existing private sector locations and 26 planned locations funded by a separate grant.
The next year, the focus will turn to stations in rural counties, small urban areas and areas advised by metropolitan planning organizations.
After that, during the third through fifth year of implementation, Texas will continue building out charging infrastructure in smaller and rural areas. The report states that charging stations might be equipped with a combination of solar and battery equipment to supplement their power supplies.
“Texas’ sheer volume of roadway miles leaves ample opportunity for EV charging deployment. The plan should ensure that every Texan can access the infrastructure they need to charge an EV,” Abbott wrote. “Additionally, I direct TxDOT and stakeholders to include in the plan a way for Texans to easily get from Beaumont to El Paso and Texline to Brownsville in an EV–with a focus on rural placement and connectivity.”
Chandra Bhat, a University of Texas transportation engineering professor and the director of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Center on Data-Supported Transportation Operations and Planning, said the additional charging stations are a welcome upgrade to Texas transportation. Some of Bhat’s research has been funded by TxDOT.
Bhat said there are several barriers to electric vehicle adoption by consumers: the upfront cost, anxiety over how far a driver can travel and the wait times for charging.
This new plan addresses range anxiety by providing many options only 50 miles apart — however, it doesn’t address cost or fully address wait times, he said. Although the planned chargers will be high speed, it still takes around half an hour, he said. A driver might not know how long they may have to wait if someone else is already using the stalls.
That uncertainty can cause consumers to pass on purchasing electric vehicles altogether, he said.
Bhat said he thinks allowing drivers to reserve charging stations at specific times might help reduce that uncertainty. But still, Bhat said he is optimistic that more people will adopt electric vehicles in Texas due to the planned infrastructure upgrades. He also hopes the state will invest in putting information in front of consumers about the increased availability of chargers.
“We will see a clear uptick in the next two or three years, I believe,” Bhat said. “And if we get an announcement that batteries are going to be lasting longer and are going to be less expensive, you're gonna see them bought by the droves.”
Active listings in Austin swelled by nearly 150% May 2021-2022 as the region begins to recover from the "dangerously low" housing inventory of the pandemic housing frenzy, according to the latest Austin Board of Realtors report.
For the first time since September 2020, the metro saw 1.2 months of available inventory, up from a critically low 0.4 months in early 2020. Still, median home prices continued their ascent and increased almost 20% year-over-year to tie April's record of $550,000.
Austin's inventory rose by 0.7 months form May 2021-2022. (Austin Board of Realtors)
While Austin's housing market has seen some signs of decline—residential home sales declined 6.7% year-over-year—available homes still spent 15 days on the market, a day less than May 2021. Texas A&M University research economist Adam Perdue said that while a crash is not imminent, prices should begin to stabilize as the number of available homes continues to increase.
“The Austin region saw dangerously low levels of inventory, as low as 0.4 months of inventory in January 2021, so this slight increase in inventory and active listings point to the market beginning to normalize," Perdue said. "While year-over-year price increases will continue to remain high, we project them to fall slightly lower than the long-term trend we’ve monitored over the past two years.”
Still, Perdue said that Austin's "bubble" isn't likely to burst anytime soon.
“The Austin housing market has experienced a multitude of factors that have influenced its current state, one of those being the high influx of companies and individuals migrating to the area both from within Texas and out-of-state, which has contributed to a strong and diverse economy attractive to people seeking opportunity," Perdue said. "These migrations of individuals and companies will continue to happen, especially as Austin is relatively affordable compared to some out-of-state markets when it comes to owning a home and operating a business."
- PROFILE: A native Austinite takes on Austin's brutal housing market ... ›
- Austin housing market set new records in May—but at a cost - austonia ›
- A brewing slowdown? Austin home prices slow, while prices ... ›
- Austin's housing market cools with the seasons, sees September ... ›
- Fall breeze hits Austin as housing market begins to plateau in ... ›