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Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol

​TAC on the Lege — Weekly Video Series​

​​We've launched a new video podcast as another tool to help you navigate the twists and turns of this special legislative session.

​TAC on the Lege — It’s the third week of the special session. While the Senate had a quiet week, the House has been busy. Get the latest on the tug-of-war at the Capitol and the current state of revenue cap legislation, and hear why it's important to join us in Austin next week. Also, don’t forget to register for the TAC Legislative Conference where you can sit in the audience of a live TAC on the Lege taping and see how the magic happens.​
Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol​​

The Week Behind Us and the Week(s) Ahead of Us  We need you in Austin next week. The committee substitute for SB 1, the revenue cap bill, has been voted out of House Ways and Means and is currently in the Calendars Committee. County officials need to visit personally with the members of Calendars, and their own legislators, and urge them to keep this unneeded legislation off the House floor. This bill concentrates power in Austin and although in its current state carves out smaller entities, that carve-out can and will disappear very quickly.

We will gather in the TAC board room on the fourth floor of the TAC building (1210 San Antonio St.) at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 7, for breakfast and then head over to the Capitol. These efforts will continue for the rest of the week. Please remain engaged. Texas counties need you at the Capitol next week.

Additionally, the Public Safety and Public Health Coalition​ will hold a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. in the outdoor C​​​apitol rotunda (located on floor E2 of the extension). Please co​nsider coming to Austin and standing with your fellow community servants in opposition to SB 1 and HB 4. If you are able to come, reach out to your community members of the coalition and ask them to join you.

The coalition includes the Texas Police Chiefs Association of Texas, Texas Municipal Police Association, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, National Fire Marshals Association, Texas Fire Marshals’ Association, Texas Fire Chiefs Association, Texas State Association of Fire Firefighters, Texas EMS Alliance, Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, Teaching Hospitals of Texas, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and the Texas Association of Counties.

Things were relatively quiet in the Senate this week. SB 18, the local government spending cap legislation, did not move, but may be considered by the full Senate next week. The House, however, advanced several bills.

“Locomotive Breath” – House Ways and Means voted out a substitute to SB 1 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) on Tuesday, which is identical to the provisions in HB 4 by Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton). The significantly shorter bill, reduced from 99 pages to a mere 28 pages, retains a revenue cap as it changes the rollback rate from the current 8 percent to 6 percent, with an automatic rollback election, for larger taxing units. Small taxing units (defined to include counties collecting $25 million or less in total maintenance and operations (M&O) property taxes) would keep the current 8 percent rollback rate and the current petition requirements needed to require a rollback election. The bill is currently in the House Calendars Committee.

“Good Vibrations” – On Thursday, House State Affairs voted out HJR 31 by Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple), which proposes a constitutional amendment to protect cities, counties and school districts from future unfunded mandates. The committee substitute adds unfunded mandate protection for school districts. The bill now heads to the House Calendars Committee.

“With a Little Help from My Friends” – There was also some activity on the House floor on bills relating to property taxes. One bill, HB 32 by Rep. Bonnen, addresses transparency issues and includes provisions affecting the appraisal process, tax rate notices and reporting requirements. Also known as the Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act of 2017, it does not change the rollback rate or alter rollback election procedures. The bill passed the House and now heads to the Senate.

“U Can’t Touch This” – Other property tax bills passed by the House this week include HB 165 by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), which allows a property owner the right to appeal certain appraisal review board determinations to district court. The House also passed HB 192 by Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), which makes it slightly more difficult to raise a property’s value during the year after a successful appraisal protest. Both those bills now head to the Senate.

“Do You Believe in Magic?” – House Ways and Means also met this week to consider several bills aimed at addressing the real pressure on property taxes — school finance. HJR 21 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide whether to eliminate school district M&O property taxes altogether. If passed by the Legislature and the voters, it would force legislators to come up with an alternative way to fund schools. That bill was voted favorably from committee. Ways and Means also considered HB 285 by Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), which replaces school property taxes with an increase in the state sales tax; that bill was left pending.

Stay tuned for further updates and keep an eye out for any legislative alerts that may be sent next week. TAC staff will continue to update officials as the special session continues.

Helpful Tracking Links for Legislation
  • Senate and House committee postings are available on Texas Legislature Online.
  • MyTLO​ section of Texas Legislature Online — ​use it to create customized alerts for specific committee meetings or to track specific bills. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
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