February 4, 2019

Join the Plano Chamber of Commerce on the first Wednesday of the month from 7:30-9am for our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting. This committee discusses legislation and issues that affect the business community. Committee meetings are open to all members in good standing. CLICK HERE for more details. 

The next Plano Legislative Days will be held February 27-28, 2019 at The Driskill Hotel in Austin, TX. CLICK HERE for more information and to reserve your hotel room.
Collin County Days will be held March 26-27, 2019 at the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Austin, TX. CLICK HERE for more information and to reserve your hotel room. 

CLICK HERE to view the bills we are tracking this session. 

The Plano Chamber works tirelessly to identify the issues of highest priority to our business community and to act on their behalf.  View the Legislative Priorities  for the 86th Texas Legislative Session for more details.


Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act
On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen held a joint press conference to announce their support for the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act. They were joined at the press conference by Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who filed SB 2, the Senate version of the bill; and Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who filed HB 2, the House version (the bills are identical). Governor Abbott said, "These two bills start the conversation for meaningful property tax reform and relief for all Texas taxpayers. As I said at the opening of the 86th Legislative session, we are going to solve school finance reform and property tax reform this session." Lt. Governor Patrick added, "I first came to Austin as a civilian witness to lower property taxes in 2003. It has been a long fight, but it is a fight worth having for the people. People desperately need property tax reform, our businesses need property tax reform, and we have set out on this day a major piece of legislation to set the tone on this major issue." Speaker Bonnen called the bill "the first step in solving the biggest problem facing Texas taxpayers." Senator Bettencourt added, "The average homeowner in Houston has endured a 37 percent increase on their property tax b ill in just four years to nearly $5,000 in total and annual property values on an average Dallas home have climbed to over 33 percent to $5,000 too. As appraised values go up, tax rates must come down." (Specifics on the bills are included in the Tax section below.)
Democrats Respond - Two Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee held a press conference on Thursday afternoon urging the House to move cautiously on the property tax reform proposal. And, they criticized the plan for not including provisions that increase the funding for public education. Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) said, "Starting the rollback rate at 2.5 percent seems like a pretty uphill battle." Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) pointed out that San Antonio ISD could lose $300 million over the next ten years if the bill passes as it is drafted. He said, "This proposal raises more questions than it answers." Representative Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, also commented saying, "An arbitrary revenue cap, one that will also make it more difficult for local communities to fund public safety, is not going to solve this problem."

This Week: Governor Greg Abbott will deliver his State-of-the-State address to a joint session of the legislature on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

The Senate was in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week conducting routine business. On Wednesday, they recessed until Friday for first reading and referral of bills to committees.
This Week: The Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

The House was in session Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week conducting routine business.
This Week: The House will reconvene at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, February 4, 2019.

House Appropriations Committee:
On Monday , the House Appropriations Committee heard invited testimony from the Legislative Budget Board, who gave presentations on:

Economic Stabilization Fund:
2020-21 Economic Stabilization Fund Balances (January 2019 Biennial Revenue Estimate):
  • Ending Balance = $15.4 billion
  • Maximum Balance = $18.6 billion
  • Sufficient Balance = $7.5 billion
HB 1 includes $633.0 million, or 4.1% of the projected balance, in the 2020-21 biennium:
  • TRS Care - $230.8 million
  • Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas - $164.0 million
  • Office of the Governor Disaster Grants - $100.0 million
  • School Safety - $43.6 million
  • Railroad Commission Oil and Gas Well Plugging - $39.1 million
  • Library and Archives State Records Expansion - $26.6 million
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice Surveillance Systems - $26.0 million
  • General Land Office Alamo Complex - $3.0 million
House Budget Recommendations:
Foundation School Program - $52.6 billion in All Funds and $42.0 billion in General Revenue.  It:
  • Fully funds current law obligations, including estimated growth in student enrollment; and
  • Increases funding by $9.0 billion over what is estimated to be required to fund current law entitlement, contingent upon legislation supporting school districts and charter schools while maintaining an equitable system of school finance by: increasing the state share of the FSP, enhancing district entitlement, decreasing recapture, and providing local tax relief.
Medicaid - $67.6 billion in All Funds and $25.2 billion in General Revenue.
  • This is an increase of $2.0 billion in All Funds and a decrease of $1.4 billion in General Revenue.
  • More favorable Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) result in a higher proportion of the program being funded with Federal Funds.
  • Funding is provided for: projected caseload growth, maintaining fiscal year 2019 average costs for most services, and cost growth associated with average costs established by the federal government.
Child Protective Services - $3.7 billion in All Funds and $2.1 billion in General Revenue.
  • This is an increase of $141.7 million in All Funds and $45.1 million in General Revenue.
  • Foster Care Payments - $1.0 billion in All Funds and $470.4 million in General Revenue that includes community-based care, and projected caseload growth.
  • CPS Direct Delivery Staff - $1.5 billion in All Funds that includes increased funding and additional full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions to maintain caseload per worker, and includes increased funding and a decrease in FTE positions for Community-based Care expansion that occurred during fiscal year 2019.
Behavioral Health - $4.0 billion in All Funds and $3.0 billion in General Revenue and General Revenue-Dedicated for non-Medicaid/CHIP behavioral health services at 23 agencies across six articles, including funding for:
  • Inpatient services at state hospitals and community hospitals;
  • Outpatient services provided through local mental health authorities and local behavioral health authorities;
  • Substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment services for adults and children;
  • Mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment for incarcerated offenders; Mental healthcare services for veterans; and
  • Other services.
Total behavioral health-related funding, including estimated Medicaid and CHIP expenditures, is expected to be $7.5 billion in All Funds.
School Safety - Funding for school safety programs includes an additional $109.4 million in All Funds including:
  • $64.9 million in General Revenue;
  • $43.6 million in Other Funds from the Economic Stabilization Fund; and
  • $0.8 million in Federal Funds.
Funding is provided at the following agencies:
  • $64.5 million at the Texas Education Agency;
  • $31.2 million at Institutions of Higher Education;
  • $11.8 million at the Health and Human Services Commission;
  • $1.1 million at the Texas School for the Deaf; and
  • $0.8 million at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Transportation - $31.6 billion in All Funds including the following estimated State Highway Fund (Fund 6) sources:
  • $9.3 billion for all available State Highway Funds from traditional transportation tax and fee revenue sources;
  • $5.0 billion from anticipated sales tax deposits from Proposition 7, 2015; and
  • $4.3 billion from oil and natural gas tax-related transfers from Proposition 1, 2014.
Funding also includes other Fund 6, Mobility Fund, Federal Funds, and debt service-related allocations.
Retirement and Health Benefits:
Teacher Retirement System - $4.1 billion in All Funds, including $4.1 billion in General Revenue, for the state contribution to retirement benefits; $1.1 billion in All Funds for retiree health insurance funding; $879.4 million in General Revenue for the statutorily required state contribution; and $230.8 million in Other Funds from the Economic Stabilization Fund to maintain plan year 2019 TRS-Care premiums and benefits.
Employees Retirement System - $1.3 billion in All Funds, including $943.0 million in General Revenue and General Revenue-Dedicated Funds, for the state contribution to retirement benefits; and $4.0 billion in All Funds, including $2.8 billion in General Revenue and General Revenue-Dedicated Funds for group insurance benefits for state employees, retirees, and their dependents.
Border Security - $782.8million in All Funds provided across state agencies including 675.7 million at the Department of Public Safety that maintains support for DPS Personnel at fiscal year 2019 full deployment levels, while eliminating funding for onetime and transitional expenditures.
Higher Education - $7.5 billion in General Revenue for higher education formulas to fund enrollment growth; and $157.2 million in All Funds for Graduate Medical Expansion including an increase of $60 million in General Revenue to meet the 1.1 to 1.0 ratio of first-year residency positions for Texas medical school graduates.
Adult Criminal Justice - $6.8 billion in All Funds is provides at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Judicial Salary Increase - $30.2 million in General Revenue is included for a 10 percent increase for judges and those statutorily linked to state district judge pay. The committee also had presentations on:
2020-2021 Biennial Revenue Estimate
Spending Limits
State Debt
Hurricane Harvey Recovery
On Tuesday , House Appropriations Committee heard invited testimony on:
Sunset Recommendations Affecting the Budget
Audits Affecting the Budget
State Contracting
Employee Retirement System
Teacher Retirement System
Cybersecurity and IT
Deferred Maintenance and Capital Needs
On Wednesday , the House Appropriations Committee heard invited testimony on:
Public Education Funding
Mental Health
School Safety
Child Protective Services
Border Security Funding
This Week:
House Appropriations Committee:
On Monday , February 4, 2019, the House Appropriations Committee will meet at 12:00 noon in E1.030 of the capitol extension to hear invited testimony on:
          School Finance
          School Safety
          Teacher Retirement System

Economic Development Corporations - On Wednesday, Representative Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed HB 1221, which would allow municipal economic development corporations to spend their sales tax revenue on general infrastructure and first responder personnel if the voters approve. An election could be called by the city council, or held after a petition threshold is triggered. Representative Patterson said, "As a former city councilmember, I know that general infrastructure and public safety are some of the largest budget items for any municipality. HB 1221 will empower cities to spend Type A and B revenue for these purposes and potentially take pressure off of local property taxes. This legislation is about more local choice and control. As a former EDC board member, I understand the quality of a city's infrastructure and public safety services play a major role in the decision of businesses to expand within or relocate to a given city and create primary jobs. HB 1221 enhances economic opportunity and creates new avenues for a municipality to pursue key local priorities. According to data collected by the Comptroller of Public Accounts, Type A and Type B corporations statewide have reported over $1.2 billion in unexpended fund balances. These are dollars that could be put to work on upgrading aging infrastructure and improving public safety services under HB 1221."

This Week: The House Energy Resources Committee will hold a joint meeting with the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in E1.030 of the capitol extension to hear invited testimony on the current status of water use in oil and gas production and to review various technologies associated with the recycle and reuse of water in oil and gas production.  

Medicaid Expansion - On Wednesday, Senator Nathan Johnson filed SB 524 and SJR 34, which would put Medicaid expansion on the November ballot for statewide voter approval. Senator Johnson said, "Medicaid expansion is, at this point, a conservative action. Over the past several years, the 36 states that have expanded Medicaid - including those led by Republican majorities - have benefitted from improved health and net economic benefit. The data is in. Medicaid expansion conforms to principles of fiscal responsibility while immediately addressing critical health needs of millions of Texans. In addition to increasing access to healthcare, Medicaid expansion reduces the rate of uncompensated care, lowers insurance premiums, and provides a substantial economic stimulus to local economies. Currently, Texans pay billions of dollars in federal taxes to support Medicaid in other states. It is time we bring more of our tax dollars back to Texas. I recognize and respect that many of my colleagues may have serious concerns about going down this path. Indeed, it has been debated in prior sessions. Today, however, as we proceed in this 86th session, the experience of other states should give us the confidence to proceed. This bill calls upon legislators to engage the citizens of Texas in a critical dialogue, and to give them the right to make an informed decision through a public referendum."
Medicaid Block Grant - On Thursday, Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation urging congress to establish a Medicaid block grant program in Texas. HCR 29 would petition the state's congressional delegation to pursue block grant legislation in Washington, D.C. to allow Texas to administer its own health care for the poor. Representative Landgraf said, "Medicaid costs in Texas have grown exponentially in recent years and are crowding out room in our state budget for other essential services such as education, higher education, and transportation. A Medicaid block grant would give Texas the flexibility to better fund those things while still keeping our commitment to the most vulnerable of all Texans. The Medicaid program is unsustainable financially for the state as Medicaid spending in Texas is experiencing steady, long-term growth. In 2001, Medicaid consumed 20 percent of the All Funds budget but now accounts for nearly 30 percent of the 2018-19 budget. Because Medicaid is a federally mandated program the state of Texas has no power to amend the mandatory benefit and eligibility requirements of the program. I believe Texas can administer the Medicaid program more efficiently, while also giving us greater certainty in the budget from year to year."


Student Financial Aid - On Tuesday, Representative Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) announced the filing of HB 535 to broaden the opportunities for students to apply for federal funding to pay for college by requiring the completion of either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ("FAFSA") or the Texas Application for State Financial Aid ("TAFSA") form (for students not eligible to fill out the FAFSA) prior to graduating from a public high school. Representative Neave said, "Currently, Texas leaves more than $300 million of federal Pell Grant funds on the table each year. We can transform a family and create generational change with a college degree, as well as help our Texas economy by connecting existing resources with the families who need them the most. As the daughter of a dad with a 6th grade education and first in my family to graduate from college, I want to ensure that we open the doors for Texas students from middle and low-income families to attend college." Representative Neave provided statistics indicating that 65 percent of jobs will require a certificate or 2- or 4-year degree by 2036; however, only 20.9 percent of Texans earned a certificate or 2- or 4-year degree in 2018 and only 62 percent of low-income high school graduates enroll in Texas public higher education institutions in the Fall semester following their high school graduation. Representative Neave concluded, "Most Texas students are eligible to receive some form of financial aid - including Pell Grants, scholarships, and loans - but to receive those funds a student must fill out the FAFSA or TAFSA. After Louisiana enacted this graduation requirement in the 2017-2018 academic year, the number of high school seniors completing the FAFSA increased so much that the state is now first in the nation for FAFSA completion."


Information Security and Cybersecurity - On Monday, Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) announced legislation to modernize state information technology (IT). HB 1096 is modeled after the federal Modernizing Government Technology Act by Texas Congressman Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), a former CIA analyst and chair of the U.S. House IT Oversight Subcommittee. Hurd's measure was signed into law in December 2017 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. It establishes an IT modernization fund at federal agencies to upgrade their technology systems. Representative Capriglione said, "Cyber-criminals love outdated IT hardware, software and systems, and unfortunately our state government has plenty of costly old IT. Old IT costs more to maintain, makes it harder to attract the next generation of state government IT professionals, and is an obstacle to improving web-based customer service for Texas residents and businesses. Modernizing state government IT is one of the simplest, most cost-effective ways for Texas to address cybersecurity threats. HB 1096 aims to incentivize cost savings in state IT, such as greater use of secure commercial cloud services, and would allow IT savings and related legislative appropriations to be used to modernize state government hardware and software." According to Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), a system is generally considered legacy when it contains components that are no longer being actively developed and may not yet be fully retired. DIR's Biennial Performance Report (BPR), published in November 2018, recommends the establishment of a Legacy Modernization Fund in the state treasury, stating that, "Establishing a fund dedicated solely to legacy modernization distinguishes this strategic goal from other IT projects, allowing greater transparency and accountability, and encouraging sustained investment in modernization by restricting the use of the fund for this one purpose." HB 1096 would create new funding and incentives for better cybersecurity through IT modernization, creating a dedicated State Technology Modernization account in the general revenue fund to close cybersecurity gaps and upgrade state government IT. HB 1096 would allow the fund to be used for:
  • Replacing agency IT systems;
  • Transitioning agency legacy information technology systems to cost-effective and secure Cloud computing services; and
  • Assisting agency efforts to provide adequate, risk-based, and cost-effective IT responses to security threats.
The Senate Select Committee on Cybersecurity interim report found, "Legacy systems operate with old, obsolete, unsecured, or inefficient hardware or software and are more difficult and costly to maintain, less resilient, and carry a higher degree of security risk. Ultimately, the Legislature decides which, if any, projects to fund, however, there is no dedicated funding mechanism or line item to track expenditures." Representative Capriglione concluded, "State data breaches are costly and undermine public trust. In FY 2013, the Health and Human Services Commission reported $2.3 million for staffing costs to respond to and recover from 1,948 security incidents. In FY 2016, the Department of State Health Services reported an estimated cost of $1.9 million from security incidents."


The House Public Education Committee met on Wednesday. Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Humble) welcomed new members to the committee and introduced Amy Peterson, the Committee Director. He updated the committee on some of the meetings held during the interim on Hurricane Harvey's effect on school districts and on activities and recommendations of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. He announced that the committee will meet on Tuesday next week to give the committee background information on school finance that he called "School Finance 101." On Wednesday, the committee will get a briefing on the Texas Commission on Public School Finance's report and 35 recommendations. The following week, there will be meetings on February 12th and 13th to receive invited testimony from people "who want to shoot holes in the report." The committee will start hearing bills on February 19, 2019. Chairman Huberty said he wants a school finance reform bill to be one of the first bills passed by the House this session.
Education Commissioner Mike Morath provided statistics indicating Texas public schools need to improve:
  • 47 percent of Texas children are Kindergarten-ready.
  • 3rd grade reading and math proficiency is about 50 percent.
  • 8th grade math proficiency is a little over 50 percent.
  • Only 16 percent of Texas students demonstrate college readiness based on ACT and SAT scores.
  • Only 55 percent of high school graduates go straight to college.
He said the public education system is improving, but it is not improving fast enough. He said that the Texas Education Agency's (TEA's) four priorities are to:
  • Recruit, Support and Retain Teachers and Principals;
  • Build a Foundation of Reading and Math;
  • Connect High School to Career and College; and
  • Improve Low Performing Schools.
He also discussed TEA's special education strategic plan, its safe schools budget request, and compensatory services. Commissioner Morath will attend next week's meeting to discuss the public education accountability system.
Math Innovation Zones - On Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Morath announced that 15 school districts and open-enrollment charter schools and one Education Service Center have been selected to launch Texas Education Agency (TEA) Math Innovation Zones for the 2019-2020 school year. Math Innovation Zones (MIZ) support school districts and open- enrollment charter schools in a high-quality implementation of blended learning programs in math. The selected school systems include:
  • Atlanta Independent School District;
  • Brooks Academies of Texas (San Antonio);
  • Clarendon Consolidated Independent School District and Education Service Center Region 16 (Amarillo);
  • Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District;
  • El Paso Independent School District;
  • Inspired Vision Academy (Dallas);
  • Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District;
  • Laredo Independent School District (Cigarroa Middle School Feeder Pattern);
  • Magnolia Independent School District;
  • Marshall Independent School District;
  • Sinton Independent School District;
  • Spring Independent School District;
  • Temple Independent School District;
  • UT Tyler University Academy; and
  • Winters Independent School District.
Commissioner Morath said, "Blended learning is an innovative instructional model that combines face-to-face instruction with online learning and, when implemented effectively, has led to strong academic gains in Texas schools. MIZ supports school districts and open-enrollment charter schools in a quality implementation of this model by establishing a network of proven service providers, building a district-friendly roadmap for strategic program design and implementation and granting funds to committed districts for planning and execution of the program. With blended learning, teachers can diagnose prior student knowledge, create differentiated academic plans for each student and adjust those plans in real-time based on instant feedback. By implementing this approach through a kindergarten through eighth grade feeder pattern, our teachers are able to better prepare our students for Algebra I readiness in the eighth grade." All 2019-2020 MIZ Districts received a planning grant to assist in the planning of MIZ in the spring of 2019. All 2019-2020 grantees that fulfill the planning requirements for MIZ will receive an additional grant to implement the program in the fall of 2019.
Class Size Limits - On Monday, Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) announced HB 1133, which would allow local independent school districts (ISDs) to have a campus-wide classroom average of 22 students (current law requires no more than 22 students per class). Representative Stickland said, "This bill repeals a burdensome and unfunded mandate. We've got to allow our local ISDs to use dollars and resources as they see fit. Placing unfunded mandates on ISDs ties the hands of our schools and sends the message that legislators in Austin know how to use their resources better than they do. We must return to trusting our local educators on the best way to use their resources. That is why we have filed HB 1133."
This Week: The House Public Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 upon adjournment of the House in E2.036 of the capitol extension to hear invited testimony from the Legislative Budget Board and the Texas Education Agency on the public school finance system. The House Public Education Committee will also meet on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 upon adjournment in the same location to hear invited testimony on the final report of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance.  

SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and HB 2 by Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would be the Property Tax Reform & Relief Act of 2019. It has five main goals:
  1. Lower the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent for taxing units that collect more than $15 million in tax revenues and establish election notice requirements based on whether a school district will or will not exceed a 2.5% rollback rate for Maintenance and Operation property tax.
  2. Require an automatic tax ratification election in November if the rollback rate is exceeded in a taxing unit.
  3. Create a property tax administrative advisory board that recommends improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of the property tax system, best practices and complaint resolution procedures.
  4. Make information about the tax rates proposed by local taxing units available online with a, "real time tax rate notice", for taxpayers and define easy to understand, "no new revenue tax rate", limits for the public.
  5. Reform the appraisal process on appraisal review board (ARB) hearings, ARB votes, and require all appraisal districts to follow appraisal manuals issued by the Texas Comptroller for better transparency, accountability, and consistency.
T his summary of SB 2 (and also HB 2) was provided by Senator Paul Bettencourt's office:
Changes Relating to the Tax Rate Process:
For taxing units that collect more than $15 million in tax revenue annually, it:
  • Lowers the rollback tax rate from the current 8% to 2.5%.
  • Requires an automatic ratification election if a taxing unit adopts a tax rate that exceeds the rollback rate, eliminating the petition requirement in current statute.
  • Requires rollback elections to be held on the uniform November election date and adjusts the property tax calendar accordingly.
For taxing units that collect no more than $15 million in tax revenue annually, it:
  • Retains the current 8% rollback rate.
  • Renames the effective tax rate as the "No-New-Revenue tax rate" so that property owners and local elected officials can better understand and utilize the tax rate as a benchmark for evaluating the tax rates proposed by local taxing units.
  • The No-New-Revenue tax rate is last year's tax rate, adjusted for changes in taxable value. The No-New-Revenue tax rate takes into account all property on the tax roll of a taxing unit both last year and this year.
  • A proposed tax rate that is greater than the No-New-Revenue tax rate represents a tax increase.
The "Real-Time Tax Rate notice" is established to inform property owners of the tax rates proposed by their local taxing units for their property. The Real-Time Tax Rate notice:
  • Is analogous to the notice of appraised value that property owners receive each spring under current law.
  • Will be available at a website that allows property owners to enter their address and then view a tax rate notice customized to their property.
  • The notice will display each taxing unit in which the property is located, as well as the proposed tax rate, No-New-Revenue tax rate and rollback tax rate for each taxing unit.
  • The notice will also display the taxable value of the property and will calculate the amount of property tax that would be imposed on the property at the proposed tax rate, the No-New-Revenue tax rate and the rollback tax rate.
  • It will provide an email address for each local government within which a property is located so that property owners can express their support or opposition for the tax rates proposed by those local governments.
  • It will be available online in time for property owners to express their support or opposition for the proposed tax rates before those rates are adopted.
  • It establishes an "office of tax rate notices" in each county and places responsibility on that office for publishing the real-time tax rate notice and for maintaining the real-time tax rate database that populates the notice.
  • It revises and reformats the tax notice required by Tax Code § 26.06 to increase the understandability and usefulness of the notice to taxpayers. For example, the notice will: clearly state whether or not the proposed tax rate represents a tax increase, depending on whether or not the proposed tax rate is greater than the No-New-Revenue tax rate; clearly state whether or not a rollback election will be held if the taxing unit adopts the proposed tax rate; and display a table comparing, both in dollar values and percentage change, the property tax on the average homestead in the taxing unit last year to the property tax that would be imposed on the average homestead in the taxing unit this year at the proposed tax rate and the No-New-Revenue tax rate, so that property owners can clearly see whether the proposed tax rate represents a tax increase or decrease and the magnitude of the change.
Adopting a Tax Rate - It prohibits a taxing unit from adopting a tax rate:
  • Before the taxing unit has certified the accuracy of the No-New-Revenue tax rate and rollback tax rate calculations;
  • Before a taxing unit that imposes an additional sales tax for property tax relief has certified that the sales tax revenue has been applied to reduce the debt component of the taxing unit's property tax rate;
  • Until the 14th day after the taxing unit has submitted the information required for the real-time tax rate notice to the office of tax rate notices;
  • Before the office of tax rate notices has delivered the real-time tax rate notice; or
  • Before the taxing unit has published the tax rate and budget information required by Tax Code § 26.18 on the county's website.
Electronic Forms - It requires all taxing units to use electronic forms promulgated by the Texas Comptroller to calculate the No-New-Revenue tax rate and the rollback tax rate in order to:
  • Increase accuracy and uniformity in the calculations.
  • Facilitate publication of the worksheets and promote transparency.
Worksheets - It requires the No-New-Revenue tax rate and rollback tax rate worksheets of each taxing unit to be published:
  • As part of the truth-in-taxation notice required by Tax Code § 26.16;
  • As an appendix to the taxing unit's budget; and
  • On the taxing unit's website.
Anticipated Collection Rate - It prohibits a taxing unit from reducing its anticipated collection rate to 100% in calculating the No-New-Revenue tax rate, if the anticipated collection rate exceeds 100%.
Failure to Comply - It allows a property owner to enjoin the collection of taxes by a taxing unit that fails to comply with the computation, publication or posting requirements of Tax Code §§ 26.04, 26.16, 26.17 or 26.18.
Remedies - It strengthens the remedies available to a property owner if a taxing unit fails to comply with the notice requirements of Tax Code §§ 26.04 and 26.05. Remedies include an injunction, the right to delay the payment of taxes, a refund of taxes already paid, reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
Websites Required - It requires each county to maintain an Internet website for purposes of publishing the truth-in-taxation notice required by Tax Code § 26.16. It requires each taxing unit to maintain an Internet website for purposes of the publishing the tax rate, budget, public hearing and contact information required by Tax Code §§ 26.04(e), 26.05(b), 26.062 and 26.18.
Changes relating to the appraisal process:
  • Establishes special ARB panels in counties with a population of 1,000,000 or more to hear protests related to commercial, industrial, utility and multi-family property.
  • Clarifies that a majority vote by ARB members is binding for decisions and thus prohibits ARB panels from requiring a unanimous vote.
  • Eliminates challenges by local governments to the value of an entire category of properties before an appraisal review board.
  • Eliminates Sunday ARB hearings and requires evening hearings to be scheduled to begin between 5 pm and 7 pm.
  • Sets the statutory deadline for filing all property tax protests to May 15, thereby eliminating confusion for owners of multiple types of property.
  • Requires all appraisal districts to follow appraisal manuals issued by the Texas Comptroller to promote more transparent, accountable and consistent appraisals statewide.
Changes relating to both the tax rate process and the appraisal process:
  • Creates a Property Tax Administration Advisory Board in the Texas Comptroller's office to oversee the entire property tax process.
Changes relating to both the rollback tax rate calculation and ballot language for ISD's:
  • Adjusts the school district rollback tax rate calculation to reflect the 2.5% revenue cap recommendation in the Public School Finance Commission Report.
  • Modifies the required ballot language if an election is required, due to a district wishing to exceed the 2.5% revenue increase.
This Week: Chairman Paul Bettencourt announced that the Senate Property Tax Committee will start hearings on SB 2 on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 8:00 a.m., but the hearing has not yet been posted.
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