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31 July 2015

Capitol Update: Tax-Free Weekend & Constitutional Amendments

We are in the dog days of summer, but time is flying by. In a few short weeks students will be back in school, and fall will be just around the corner. While we are all trying to stay cool, here is what is happening in your state capitol…

Back to School Tax-Free Weekend: Aug. 7-9th

Every year, Texans get a break from state and local sales taxes for one weekend prior to the school year starting. This year is no different, and the tax-free weekend this year runs August 7th through the  9th. As in previous years, the tax free weekend exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies, and backpacks priced under $100 from sales taxes. I hope everyone is able to take advantage of this benefit and save some money leading into the school year.

Water Projects
In the past couple of weeks, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has begun approving a new round of funding under the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), as well as other state administered funding programs, totaling over $3.9 billion in funding commitments statewide. The SWIFT is designed to help our local water planning regions construct critical infrastructure improvements, while also emphasizing water reuse and ensuring that the agricultural needs of rural Texas are accounted for. The process will help our growing state meet its water needs, while also prioritizing local control and protecting our water rights in East Texas. I look forward to continuing to work with local leaders and the TWDB to ensure that critical water projects across the communities in our district continue to be approved and funded.
Constitutional Amendments: Part 1 of 7
As a new segment, we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the proposed constitutional amendments in each of my columns leading up to the constitutional amendments election on November 3rd, 2015. The process of amending our state’s constitution is designed to be very challenging. Each proposed constitutional amendment must first pass the House and Senate by two-thirds of the elected membership. Then, the proposition is placed on the ballot so that all voters in Texas may have their voice heard on these critical policy matters. There will be seven proposed changes to our constitution on the ballot this year, and I believe it is critical for us to all be well informed as to their effects before voting. Here is part one of this seven part series.

Proposition 1 on the upcoming ballot was known as Senate Joint Resolution 1 during this past Legislative Session. SJR 1 had overwhelming support in the House where it passed unanimously. If approved by voters in November, Proposition 1 will lower your property taxes by increasing the residence homestead exemption from property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000. This will save the average homeowner over $125 per year, resulting in over $1.2 billion in tax savings statewide.

Additionally, it is important to note that if you have moved, or are not registered to vote, the deadline for voter registration is Monday, October 5, 2015. Early voting will be from October 19th through October 30th. If you have any questions regarding any of the proposed amendments, or on how to register to vote, please call my office at (512) 463-0508. We will be glad to help you navigate the process.

For the convenience of constituents not wanting to travel far from home, the regular mobile office is set for August 5th at the Leon Country Courthouse in Centerville from 8:30 am to 11am and at the Madison Country Courthouse Annex  in Madisonville from 1:30 to 4. August 19th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 8:30 am to 11am, at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30 to 4, and on August 26th at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 8:30 am to 11am.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at (936) 634-2762 or (512) 463-0508 if we can ever be of assistance, and remember that our door is always open.

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