By the time some of you read this column, the Texas House will have adjourned Sine Die (meaning without assigning a day for a further meeting). A special session called by the Governor is a possibility, but as the dust settles and the curtains close on the 85th Legislative Session, legislators are eager to return home to their paying jobs, and most importantly, their friends and family. It has truly been a blessing to serve as your Representative and it is an honor that I do not take lightly. During the interim, please know that my offices in both Austin and Lufkin will still be available to assist you with any issues or concerns you might have at the state or local level. In that regard, here’s the latest Capitol update from Austin. . .
Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act
The Texas House recently added a perfecting amendment to Senate Bill 669, which has been named The Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act. With the additional amendment from the House, SB 669 now empowers taxpayers in two very important ways. First, the bill brings more transparency to the tax rate setting process. It gives taxpayers the tools and information they need – in an easy to understand format – to engage local officials who set tax rates. Second, for those taxpayers who take part in the protest process, the bill strengthens their rights by ensuring that their property value will not be increased because of the protest and also requires appraisal review board members to meet certain training criteria.
Voter ID Law
The House also approved a measure this week that would help bolster protection against voter fraud in Texas. Senate Bill 5 would require the Secretary of State to establish a program using mobile units to provide election identification certificates to voters in order to satisfy the requirements of voter ID law. Further, if a voter is not able to provide photo identification, the bill both strengthens and clarifies the forms of identification that would be acceptable. I am proud to have supported this bill because I believe that the voting process in Texas demands the highest level of integrity. Voter ID requirements help ensure that we safeguard one of the most fundamental rights we share as Americans.
Legislation to the Governor’s Desk
We recently reached a milestone this session, as Governor Abbott signed the first bill from our office into law. The bill, HB 777, would allow for certain members of the armed services in the United Sates to continue receiving an agricultural exemption while they are deployed or stationed outside of the State of Texas. I am very pleased to have this bill make it all the way across the finish line and remain confident that there will be many more to come. The Governor now has until June 19th to give final approval on bills that have passed out of both the House and Senate.
The mobile office is back on the road in June and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here’s this month’s schedule: June 7th from 9-11am at the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville or from 1:30pm – 3:30 pm at the Madison County Courthouse Annex in Madisonville. You can also come see us on June 21st from 9am – 11am at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett or from 1:30pm – 3:30pm at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton. Finally, we will be at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine on June 28th from 9am – 11am.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.