October 23, 2017

This week's Capitol Roundup :
  • Statewide AGC-TBB leaders meet for two days in Austin to discuss strategy for next four years
  • Texas voters will decide fate of seven ballot proposals to amend state constitution
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AGC Texas Chapters

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Quote of the Week
"It's time that we re-assert that Texas is fully committed to private-sector growth. There should be no ambiguity that the Texas House will focus on the big and consequential instead of the petty and the polarizing."
 
-Texas House Speaker Joe Straus
Straus, a Republican who has led the Texas House since 2009, made the comment in a speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce earlier this month when he announced a new House committee will study the state's ability to attract new businesses, especially in the wake of backlash from businesses over the so-called "bathroom bill" last session. The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness will examine factors that draw businesses to Texas, including education and infrastructure, said Straus, who gave the committee a Dec. 12 deadline to report its findings.
AGC-TBB completes two-day strategic planning session
 
AGC Texas Building Branch's leaders from across the state convened in Austin last week to map out the organization's strategic goals for the next four years.

Chief on the agenda was the 2018 transition of AGC-TBB President Mike Chatron to his successor Corbin Van Arsdale, who currently serves as AGC-TBB Vice President & General Counsel. The transition will be further discussed at the November 2017 AGC-TBB board meeting and will be officially completed Jan. 1, 2018. 

AGC-TBB leaders also began planning strategies for advocacy efforts for the next two legislative sessions; a more complete legislative strategy will be announced in Fall 2018 in advance of the 2019 session.

In attendance for the Oct. 17-18 meeting were members of the AGC-TBB Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and executives and leaders from the statewide chapters. The meeting was originally slated for September but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Harvey.
Texans to vote on seven constitutional amendment proposals

Texans heading to the polls on Nov. 7 will have the opportunity to vote on seven different ways to change the state constitution. The proposals were approved by the 85th Texas Legislature this spring - constitutional amendments require approval from a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to be placed on the ballot - but final approval must come from a majority of voters.

The seven amendment proposals along with brief descriptions of their content are listed below. We encourage each of you to study the issues and take advantage of your right to vote. Early voting begins today, Oct. 23 and ends Friday, Nov. 3. 

for more detailed ballot information - including common arguments for and against the proposals - prepared by the Texas House of Representatives Research Organization.

Proposition 1 - Partial property Tax Exemption for Partially Disabled Veterans - House Joint Resolution 21 by Bell (co-sponsor: Creighton)

"The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution."

Prop. 1 would allow the Legislature to provide a partially disabled veteran or their spouse with a partial property tax exemption on a homestead that was donated at a reduced cost to the veteran so long as it was donated for less than its market value.

Proposition 2 - Home Equity Loan Revisions - Senate Joint Resolution 60 by Hancock (co-sponsor: Parker)

"The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing for home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads."

Prop. 2 would lower the cap on fees that are charged when making a home equity loan, allow the refinancing of home equity loans into non-home equity loans, and amend the list of the types of approved lenders. The proposed amendment would lower the cap on fees charged to borrowers from 3 percent to 2 percent of the principal of the loan.

Proposition 3 - Appointed Officer Term Expiration - Senate Joint Resolution 34 by Birdwell (co-sponsor: Geren) 

"The constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate after the expiration of the person's term of office."

Currently, the Texas Constitution requires all appointees within the state to continue to perform the duties of their office until a successor is sworn in. Prop. 3 would create an exception to that requirement for appointees who did not receive a salary, allowing the appointee to end their duties on the last day of the legislature's regular session.

Proposition 4 - Court Notice to Texas Attorney General of Constitutional Challenges to State Law -  Senate Joint Resolution  6 by Zaffirini (co-sponsor: Schofield)

"The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the Legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional."

Prop. 4 would authorize the Legislature to require courts to notify the attorney general when a party to a lawsuit filed a case challenging the constitutionality of a state statute. The proposition would also authorize the Legislature to create a 45-day grace period for the state to intervene before the court enters a final judgment.

Proposition 5 - Eligibility Requirements for Professional Sports Team Charitable Raffles -  House Joint Resolution 100 by Kuempel (co-sponsor: Hinojosa)

"The constitutional amendment on professional sports teams' charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles."

Current law allows for charitable raffles for Texas major league sports organizations, such as the MLB, NFL, and NBA. Prop. 5 clarifies which professional sports team's charitable foundations may conduct charitable raffles, such as WNBA, Minor League Baseball, NASCAR, and INDYcar.

Proposition 6 - Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of First Responders Killed in Line of Duty - Senate Joint Resolution 1 by Campbell (co-sponsor: Fallon)

"The constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty."

Prop. 6 would allow the Legislature to give a partial or total homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of a first responder who was killed or fatally injured in the line of duty, provided that the spouse had not remarried since the first responder's death.

Proposition 7 - Financial Institutions to Offer Prizes to Promote Savings - House Joint Resolution 37 by E. Johnson (co-sponsor: Hancock)

"The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings."

Prop. 7 would allow the Legislature to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to conduct promotional activities to encourage savings. Prizes could be awarded to the institution's depositors selected by lot. 

2017

October
23 - First day of early voting
27 - Last day mail-in ballot applications may be received

November
3 - Last day of early voting
3 -  AGC TBB Safety Committee Meeting - TEXO
7 - ELECTION DAY
17 - AGC TBB Board Meeting - Austin AGC Office

2018

January
19 - AGC TBB Board Meeting - Austin AGC Office

April
20 - AGC TBB Board Meeting - Austin AGC Office

September
21 - AGC TBB Board Meeting - Austin AGC Office

November
16 - AGC TBB Board Meeting - Austin AGC Office