Property tax reform bill goes to conference committee

by | May 9, 2019 | Opinion

The Texas House of Representatives on May 1 passed Senate Bill 2, legislation proposing to bring property tax relief to homeowners, but the lower house slowed the bill’s momentum by tacking on 25 floor amendments.

If finally passed in the coming days, the legislation would lower the rollback rate for most local taxing authorities from 8 percent to 3.5 percent and 2 percent for school districts. The bill also allows local option elections on proposals to exceed rollback rates.

SB 2, like House Bill 1, the state budget bill, is now in the hands of a conference committee of five House members and five Senate members tasked with producing a final, agreed-to version. Meanwhile, all eyes are on the calendar and the clock as constitutional deadlines set in and the May 27 end of the session grows near.

Gov. Greg Abbott lauded the progress made on the property tax reform bill. “For too long, Texans have watched their property taxes skyrocket while being reduced to tenants of their own property. That is not the Texas way,” Abbott said.

“In the final days of the legislative session, I am confident this historic legislation, combined with additional reforms working their way through the system, will reach my desk where I will sign them into law. I look forward to working with Lt. Gov. Patrick, Speaker Bonnen and the entire Legislature to deliver lasting property tax relief to every Texan.”

Parties settle voting suit

Parties in the lawsuit LULAC v. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley and consolidated cases agreed to a settlement over Whitley’s Jan. 25 letter to county voter registrars.

In an announcement released April 26, Whitley wrote, “Today’s agreement accomplishes our office’s goal of maintaining an accurate list of qualified registered voters while eliminating the impact of any list maintenance activity on naturalized U.S. citizens. I will continue to work with all stakeholders in the election community to ensure this process is conducted in a manner that holds my office accountable and protects the voting rights of eligible Texans.”

In his role as the state’s chief elections officer, Whitley wrote the letter directing registrars to identify and remove from voter rolls non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in Texas. That letter sparked the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss their claims and the Secretary of State’s office agreed to issue a new advisory notifying Texas counties on a revised process for identifying and removing non-U.S. citizens from the state’s voter rolls.

The Secretary of State’s office, in following the new process, will send to county voter registrars only the matching records of individuals who registered to vote before identifying themselves as non-U.S. citizens to the Texas Department of Public Safety when applying for a driver license or personal identification card.

House OKs marijuana bill 

HB 63, legislation lessening penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, won House approval on April 30, on a vote of 103-42.

If passed, the penalty for minor possession of marijuana would be a misdemeanor citation, like a traffic ticket. Authored by House Speaker Pro-tempore Joe Moody, D-El Paso, the bill drew support from both political parties.

Before a final vote was called in the House, Moody said in the course of a longer statement, “Members, 22 states and the District of Columbia have passed bills like this and the sky hasn’t fallen there. Whatever you think about Colorado-style legalization, this isn’t it.”

HB 63 was received in the Senate for consideration on April 30, but Lt. Gov. Patrick, who presides over the upper chamber, indicated in a social media post that he would not allow the bill to progress any further.

Revenue total increases

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on May 2 announced state sales tax revenue totaled $2.8 billion in April, an amount 3 percent more than the amount reported in April 2018.

“State sales tax revenue continued to grow, but at a modest pace compared to recent months,” Hegar said in an agency news release. “Increased sales tax collections were mostly from the construction and services sectors, while collections from retail trade saw a moderate decline,” he added.

Furthermore, Hegar said, total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in April 2019 was up 6.2 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

 

For more stories like this, see the May 9 issue or subscribe online.

 

By Ed Sterling • Member Services Director, Texas Press Association

0 Comments

Related News

Why we need a community forum

Why we need a community forum

I am not sure what I expected our country to look like in 2021, but I certainly did not expect it to be so fractured and so bogged down in hate. My oldest son was a year old on September 11, 2001. The wave of patriotism following that day gave me hope for the America...

read more
Rural America needs sound, predictable tax policy

Rural America needs sound, predictable tax policy

They say that nothing is certain in life ex­cept death and taxes. While those two certainties are undeniable, we need to make sure that family-owned busi­nesses, including farms and ranches, aren’t taxed to death. Texas boasts more than 248,000 farming and ranch­ing...

read more
Supporting local journalism supports this community

Supporting local journalism supports this community

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA) was recently introduced in the House and has now been introduced in the Senate – and will benefit every member of this community! Unlike many issues in Wash­ington, this legislation has bi­partisan support and is focused...

read more
We’re global now

We’re global now

No matter how hard we try, we really can’t avoid one another. We live in a world where what takes place some­where else on the globe has a very good chance of affecting us, along with many others. The pandemic, of course, is a useful – if sobering – ex­ample. A virus...

read more
Texans’ right to know should be front and center

Texans’ right to know should be front and center

With state lawmak­ers immersed in the COVID-19 pandemic response and Texas’ electricity failures, the public’s access to information must be at the forefront of the Legis­lature’s actions. Information allows citizens to watch over their government, to speak out and to...

read more
Legislators can help prevent trafficking

Legislators can help prevent trafficking

The COVID-19 pan­demic has produced too many tragedies to tally, but here is one that does not get talked about enough: It has worsened conditions that leave children and youth especially vulnerable to com­mercial sexual exploitation, a human trafficking crime. Human...

read more
Texans urged to roll up their sleeves

Texans urged to roll up their sleeves

Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas leaders are rolling up their sleeves to get the COVID-19 vaccine and to encourage the public to follow suit. “I will never ask any Texan to do something that I’m not willing to do myself,” Abbott said before getting vaccinated at a...

read more