As students once again fill the hallways and classrooms of schools across the state, Texas lawmakers are finally making their way home after a laborious month in Austin. I’m pleased to report that the Legislature took action on a number of issues that will positively impact all Texans. After 29 days, a total of 12 bills were sent to the Governor’s desk, all of which have now been signed into law. In that regard, I want to provide you with a brief recap of the Special Session.
Special Session Wrap-Up
If you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on at the Capitol during the special session, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about property tax reform. I was encouraged by some of the conversations I had in the weeks leading up to the special session about the opportunity we had to pass something in this area. After weeks of debate and deliberation, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly to reduce by 25 percent the threshold wherein an election must be held before a local taxing entity may increase property taxes. The House also added an important amendment to create a more transparent appraisal process by providing more information to local taxpayers about their property taxes on their annual appraisal notices. Ultimately, this measure was sent to the Senate where it failed to pass because of stalled negotiations between the House, Senate and the Governor. Looking forward, I feel confident the Legislature will continue the dialogue as we set our sights towards addressing this issue in subsequent sessions.
Beyond reform, as I’ve continued to maintain, I believe the best way to achieve true property tax relief is by fixing our broken and inequitable school finance system. While the House approved a measure that would help achieve this goal during the regular session, the bill ultimately did not pass the Senate. Fortunately, we were given another opportunity in the special session to work with our counterparts on a compromise – House Bill 21. Though the bill does not include all of the provisions we wanted, this legislation will ultimately serve to benefit public school teachers and students by restoring a significant amount of money to those districts qualifying for Additional State Aid for Tax Relief (ASATR) and providing over $200 million to help alleviate some of the financial burden placed on our retired teachers through TRS-Care. It also creates a School Finance Commission to make recommendations to the next Legislature on what a new school funding system might look like.
All told, the Texas House demonstrated a thoughtful approach to passing meaningful, conservative legislation we felt was in the best interest of our state. As a result of this special session, the citizens of Texas will recognize stronger pro-life laws and private property rights, as well as increased protection of the ballot box, and the continuance of a number of state agencies that provide critical services to our citizens.
The mobile office is on the road in August and looks forward to seeing you around the district! Here’s the remainder of this month’s schedule: August 23rd from 9-11am at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.