Thomas v. Groebl

Decision Date23 January 1948
Docket NumberNo. 2658.,2658.
Citation208 S.W.2d 412
PartiesTHOMAS, County Attorney, et al. v. GROEBL et al.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

Appeal from District Court, Howard County; Cecil C. Collings, Judge.

Election contest between George T. Thomas, County Attorney and others, and Ted Groebl and others, involving an election for a tax increase and issuance of bonds for an independent school district. From a judgment, George T. Thomas, County Attorney, and others appeal.

Judgment affirmed.

George T. Thomas, of Big Spring, for appellants.

J. L. Sullivan, of Big Spring, for appellees.

LONG, Justice.

Appellants, in their brief, have made a clear and concise statement of the case and of the questions involved as follows:

"This is an election contest, involving an election for a tax increase and issuance of bonds for an Independent School District. From a trial court judgment holding the tax increase carried and the bonds defeated, Contestees have appealed.

"1. House Bill 344, 49th Legislature, is unconstitutional beacuse of defective and misleading caption, and therefore the trial court erred in holding illegal the votes of 45 persons over 60 years of age who had permanent exemption certificates issued in prior years, but who had not had issued to them exemption certificates for the current year, but were otherwise qualified voters.

"2. Both Article 2968, before amendment by H.B. 344, and H.B. 344 of the 49th Legislature, are unconstitutional as being in excess of the Legislature's power to limit the right of suffrage, and therefore, the trial court erred in holding illegal the votes of 45 persons over 60 years of age and who were otherwise qualified voters other than they did not have exemption certificates for the current year.

"3. House Bill 344, 49th Legislature, is unconstitutional because of being in excess of the legislative power to regulate suffrage, and therefore the trial court erred in holding illegal the votes of 45 persons over 60 years of age who had permanent exemption certificates issued in prior years, but who had not had issued to them exemption certificates for the current year, but were otherwise qualified voters.

"4. House Bill 344, 49th Legislature, does not make illegal the vote of a person holding a permanent exemption certificate and otherwise qualified, but who has not obtained a certificate of exemption for the current year, and therefore the court erred in holding such votes illegal. In the election contested, 45 persons voted who lived in Big Spring, a town of over 10,000 population, and who had not obtained exemption certificates for the current year, but who were over 60, and had permanent exemption certificates issued to them in Howard County in prior years, and were otherwise qualified voters. The trial court held the votes cast by such voters to be illegal.

"If such votes were illegal, the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. If such votes were legal, the judgment of the trial court should be reformed in such manner to hold that such election, both as to the tax increase and the bonds, failed to carry. All points herein raised relate to this one problem."

The 49th Legislature, by House Bill 344, Acts 1945, c. 333, Vernon's Ann.Civ.St. art. 2968, amended Article 2968 of the Revised Civil Statutes. Article 2968, prior to such amendment, required every person who was exempted by law from the payment of a poll tax and who resided in a city of 10,000 inhabitants or more, before the first day of February of each year, to obtain from the tax collector of the county of his or her residence a certificate showing his or her exemption from the payment of a poll tax. The act further provided that if the voter was exempt from the payment of poll tax for any of the reasons stated in Article 2960, Revised Civil Statutes, the tax collector should mark such exemption to be a permanent exemption and that thereafter, it should not be necessary for the voter, while he had his residence in the county and voting precinct where such certificate was issued, for such voter to obtain a yearly certificate of exemption. Article 2960, Revised Civil Statutes, provided that every person who is more than 60 years old or who is blind or deaf or dumb or is permanently disabled or has lost one hand or foot, should be entitled to vote without being required to pay a poll tax if the voter had obtained a certificate of exemption provided by law.

H.B. 344 of the 49th Legislature, which amended Article 2968, changed said Article so that it became necessary for a voter who was exempt from the payment of a poll tax to obtain a certificate of exemption from the tax collector before the first day of February of each year and did away with that part of the Statute allowing a voter to obtain a permanent exemption.

Appellants contend that H.B. 344 is unconstitutional because of a defective and misleading caption. In other words, it is their contention that the caption is broader than the bill. The title of H.B. 344 reads as follows:

"An Act to amend Article 2968, of the Revised Civil Statutes of the State of Texas, requiring those persons entitled to poll tax exemption to secure a new certificate annually; and declaring an emergency."

It will be seen that the title refers to those persons entitled to a poll tax exemption while the act only requires voters who reside in a city of 10,000 population or more to secure such exemption. By making a study of the history of legislation requiring voters to obtain exemption certificates, we find that such certificates have never been required of any voters other than those residing in cities having a population of 10,000 or more, except in cases of those arriving at the age of 21 years after January 1 of an election year, and this group is provided for in a separate Article, to wit, Article 2968a.

Article 6, Section 4 of the Constitution, Vernon's Ann.St., authorizes the Legislature to provide for registration of voters in cities having a population of 10,000 or more and it is our opinion that Article 2968 was passed by the Legislature by virtue of the authority vested in it by this provision in the Constitution. There is no authority under our law for the issuance of an exemption certificate to a voter residing outside of a city containing a population of 10,000 or more. Consequently, the caption to H.B. 344 primarily was referring to those voters who reside in a city having a population of 10,000 or more. It is clear that any one seeking...

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1 cases
  • Thomas v. Groebl
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • June 23, 1948
    ...in holding that the forty-five voters who had not obtained certificates of exemption for the current year were not qualified voters. 208 S.W.2d 412. This Court has jurisdiction of this case, although it is an election because "the validity of a statute (Chap. 333, Acts Regular Session of th......

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