July 31, 2017
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PUBLIC POLICY COMMITTEE
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SENATE NEWS    
The Senate was in session July 24-26 and July 28 last week.
 
On Monday, July 24 the Senate took up 6 bills from the governor's call and passed them to Third Reading including SB 1 by Paul Bettencourt, which makes several property tax reforms; SB 2 by Larry Taylor, which would establish a tax credit scholarship and educational assistance program to provide scholarships or educational expense assistance to students with a disability; SB 10 by Donna Campbell, which would require health care facilities and physicians to report abortion complications; SB 16 by Larry Taylor, which would establish the Texas Commission on Public School Finance; SB 17 by Lois Kolkhorst, which would expand the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force; and SB 73 by Bryan Hughes, which would require physicians who perform an abortion on a woman younger than 18 years old to report information, and would require a physician who performs an abortion based on a severe and irreversible fetal abnormality to report the type of fetal abnormality.
 
On Tuesday, July 25, the Senate gave final approval to the 6 bills passed to Third Reading on July 24. And, they passed 6 additional bills to Third Reading including SB 3 by Lois Kolkhorst, which would require multi-occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities of a political subdivision to be designated for and used only by persons of the same sex as stated on the person's birth certificate; SB 4 by Charles Schwertner, which would prohibit a governmental entity from entering into a taxpayer resource transaction with an abortion provider; SB 7 by Bryan Hughes, which would prohibit governmental entities from directly collecting union dues from employee paychecks; SB 9 by Kelly Hancock, which would base the constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation; SB 11 by Charles Perry, which would limit the circumstances under which a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is valid; and SB 19 by Jane Nelson, which would provide an annual bonus for classroom teachers, and would provide funding to reduce costs for participants in the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program (TRS-Care).
 
On Wed., July 26, the Senate passed 6 bills to Third Reading and adjourned. They reconvened, started a new legislative day and gave final approval to those bills including SB 5 by Kelly Hancock, which would create the offense of election fraud for voting or attempting to vote a ballot belonging to another person or providing false information on an application for ballot by mail; SB 6 by Donna Campbell, which is an annexation reform bill that prescribes procedures to be followed by a municipality before annexing property based on the size of the municipality; SB 8 by Brandon Creighton, which would prohibit health benefit plans from providing coverage for elective abortion; SB 13 by Konni Burton, which would shorten the deadlines for approval of local building permit applications; SB 14 by Bob Hall, which would prohibit municipalities from restricting the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation form the owner's private property; and SB 15 by Don Huffines, which would prohibit local governments from maintaining or enforcing local ordinances regarding the use of wireless communication devices.

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Paul Bettencourt said, "The Texas Senate, led by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, has completed a legislative 'tour de force' and passed eighteen major pieces of legislation is just three days. This is in addition to the sunset legislation that the Texas Senate previously passed, totaling 20 bills for the special session. The Texas Senate showed up to work and voted, just as all Texans expect their elected representatives to do. The members of the Senate Republican Caucus rose to the occasion to pass conservative solutions to Texas' challenges for their constituents. Due to the hard work of the Texas Senate, never in the history of Texas has so much major legislation passed in such a short period of time."

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick added, "When the Texas Senate recessed on Wednesday, July 26, 18 bills (plus SB 20 and SB 60 - Sunset Bills) included on the Special Session proclamation by Governor Greg Abbott had passed the Senate. The Texas Senate is committed to passing the conservative legislation the people of Texas elected them to pass and they arrived in Austin last week ready for work. In the past week, they have logged almost 57 hours in committee hearings and over 33 hours on the Senate Floor to pass 18 bills on the Special Session call. The senators are a true testament to what can be accomplished when you are determined to do what is best for Texas."
 
On Friday, July 28 Senator Robert Nichols briefly took the chair to convene the Senate in order to receive a message from the Supreme Court of Texas making nominations to the State Bar of Texas. Then, the Senate recessed until July 31.
 
Additional information on these bills is included in the issue categories below.
 
The Senate reconvened on Monday, July 31, 2017 at 2:00 PM.
HOUSE NEWS:
The House was in session July 24-28 last week.
 
On Monday, July 24, the House took up HB 1 by Larry Gonzales, which would extend the sunset dates for the Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners from Sept. 1, 2017 to Sept. 1, 2019. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote.
 
On Tuesday, July 25, the House gave unanimous final approval to HB 1.
 
On Wed., July 26 the House conducted routine business but did not have a calendar of bills for consideration.
 
On Thursday, July 27, the House took up 3 bills and passed them to Third Reading including
HB 2 by Larry Gonzalez, which would repeal appropriations contingency riders that made funding for the Texas Medical Board and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists contingent on passage of their sunset bills during the regular session in order to provide continued funding for those agencies; HB 7 by Dade Phelan, which would require a municipality that imposes a fee for tree removal to allow the person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee; and HB 13 by Giovanni Capriglione, which would require health care facilities and physicians to report abortion complications to the Health & Human Services Commission. Note: Additional information on HB 2, HB 7, and HB 13 are in the Budget, Property and Health issue categories below.
 
On Friday, July 28, the House gave final approval to the 3 bills they debated on July 27.
 
The House reconvened on Monday, July 31 at 2:00 PM. 
BUDGET 
PASSED THE SENATE
SB 9 by Kelly Hancock would base the constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation. It passed to Third Reading on July 25 by a vote of 20-11 and received final Senate approval on July 26 by the same vote.
 
PASSED THE HOUSE
HB 2 by Larry Gonzalez would repeal appropriations contingency riders that made funding for the Texas Medical Board and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists contingent on passage of their sunset bills during the regular session in order to provide continued funding for those agencies. It was reported favorably as substituted from the House Appropriations Committee on July 25. On July 27, the committee substitute was adopted and it passed to Third Reading unanimously. It received final approval on July 28 by a vote of 138-0.
 
On July 27, the House Appropriations Committee took up:
  • HB 208 by Tan Parker would base the constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation. It was left pending. Note: the companion, SB 9, has passed the Senate.
  • HJR 1 by Greg Bonnen would propose a constitutional amendment basing the constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation. It was left pending.
  • HB 30 by John Zerwas would appropriate $963.5 million in each fiscal year of the 2018-19 biennium to the Texas Education Agency to increase the Basic Allotment from $5,140 $5,350 and allocate $15 million per fiscal year to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to assist in covering the cost of educating students with disabilities. It defers the $1.9 billion August 2019 Foundation School Program payment to Sept. 2019. It was voted out favorably.
ENVIRONMENT
On Wednesday, July 25 the House Natural Resources Committee took up: 
  • HB 26 by Lyle Larson would require groundwater conservation districts to use the district rules in effect on the date of a permit application for the district's decision to deny or grant an application; and would allow a district to adopt a moratorium on the issuance of a permit or permit amendment unless the district did the following. The moratorium would expire 90 days after issuance and could not be extended. It was voted out favorably.  
    • posts a notice,
    • holds a hearing, and
    • makes written findings supporting the moratorium.
  • HB 27 by Lyle Larson would authorize a groundwater conservation district located over any part of a designated brackish groundwater production zone to adopt rules to permit the withdrawal of brackish groundwater in a designated brackish groundwater production zone. It would require the Texas Water Development Board to review and comment on permit applications and report on the impact of brackish groundwater production in a designated zone upon request of the groundwater conservation district. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 226 by Lyle Larson would require the Texas Water Development Board to appoint a planning council that includes a member from each regional water planning group prior to the adoption of a new state water plan. It would require regional water plans to be developed after the following. It was voted out favorably.
    • consider variations in drought response strategies,
    • conduct an assessment of the potential for aquifer storage & recovery projects, and
    • develop goals of per capita water use for municipal water groups.
  • HB 228 by Lyle Larson would clarify that aquifer storage and recovery projects could consist of multiple sources of water; and would allow the sources of water for aquifer storage & recovery projects to be from water that is not continuously available or be a diversion from a watercourse that would otherwise flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and would prohibit projects that would negatively affect existing water rights in the same river basin or applicable environmental flow standards. It would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to consider any international treaties concerning applications and prohibit TCEQ from approving applications that would violate such treaties. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 229 by Lyle Larson would allow money in the Texas State Water Investment Fund to be used for the development of desalination facilities and aquifer storage and recovery facilities. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 230 by Lyle Larson would require the Texas Water Development Board to develop a program to promote the acquisition of conservation easements. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 275 by Trent Ashby would require extensions of an expired permit for the transfer of groundwater from a groundwater conservation district to a term that is not shorter than the term of an operating permit for the production of water to be transferred that is in effect at the time of the extension. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 277 by Lyle Larson would require the Texas Water Development Board to conduct studies of aquifer storage and recovery projects identified in the state water plan in cooperation with groundwater conservation districts, regional water planning groups, and potential sponsors of aquifer storage and recovery projects. It was voted out favorably.
GENERAL BUSINESS    
PASSED THE SENATE  
SB 3 by Lois Kolkhorst would require multi-occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities of a political subdivision to be designated for and used only by persons of the same sex as stated on the person's birth certificate. When it was taken up by the Senate on July 25, Senator Kirk Watson raised a point of order stating that the bill's provision on participation in athletics is outside the governor's call. The point of order was overruled. Sen. Watson appealed the ruling of the chair, and it was sustained by a vote of 20-11 along a party line vote. Four floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 21-10. It received final Senate approval on July 26 by the same vote.
 
On July 24, the House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee took up HCR 19 by Rafael Anchia would establish a joint interim committee to study the impact on Texas of any proposed modifications to NAFTA. It was voted out favorably.
 
HEALTH 
PASSED THE SENATE
SB 17
by Lois Kolkhorst would expand the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force. It would require the Health & Human Services Commission to evaluate options for reducing pregnancy-related deaths and report its efforts to reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths. Two floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading unanimously on July 24. On July 25, it received unanimous final Senate approval. Note: the companion, HB 9, was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Health Committee on July 27.
 
On July 25, the House Appropriations Committee took up HB 25 by Sarah Davis, which would appropriate $34.2 million in 2018 and $36 million in 2019 from the Economic Stabilization Fund and $45 million in 2018 and $48.3 million in 2019 in federal funds to the Health & Human Services Commission for Medicaid acute care therapy services. It was reported out favorably.
 
On July 26, the House Public Health Committee took up:
  • HB 9 by Cindy Burkett would expand the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force. It would require the Health & Human Services Commission to evaluate options for reducing pregnancy-related deaths and report its efforts to reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths. It was initially left pending, but on July 27, it was voted out favorably as substituted. Note: the companion, SB 17, has passed the Senate.
  • HB 10 by Armando Walle would expand the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force and require Health & Human Services Commission to conduct a study on the feasibility of including provider best practices and maternal health outcomes as pay-for-quality measures. It was initially left pending, but on July 27, it was voted out favorably as substituted.
  • HB 11 by Shawn Thierry would expand the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force and require the Health & Human Services Commission to conduct a study on the feasibility of including provider best practices & maternal health outcomes as a pay-for-quality measures. It was initially left pending, but on July 27, it was voted out favorably as substituted.
  • HB 28 by Lina Ortega would expand the membership of Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force from 13 to 14 members by adding one nurse specializing in labor and delivery. It was initially left pending, but on July 27, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 227 by Lina Ortega would establish a maternal health care improvement program to address maternal morbidity. It was left pending.
  • HB 247 by Lina Ortega would require death certificates to indicate whether a female decedent was pregnant at the time of death or was pregnant at any time in the year preceding the decedent's death. It was left pending.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS
PASSED THE SENATE 
SB 15
by Don Huffines would prohibit local governments from maintaining or enforcing local ordinances regarding the use of wireless communication devices. On July 26, i t passed to Third Reading by a vote of 20-11, and later on July 26, received final Senate passage by a vote of 19-12.
 
On July 27, the House Transportation Committee took up:
  • HB 117 by Tomas Uresti would prohibit the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle. It was left pending.
  • HB 171 by Craig Goldman would prohibit local governments from maintaining or enforcing local ordinances regarding the use of wireless communication devices. It was left pending. Note: the companion, SB 15, has passed the Senate.
PROPERTY
PASSED THE SENATE
  • SB 6 by Donna Campbell is an annexation reform bill that prescribes procedures to be followed by a municipality before annexing property based on the size of the municipality. Three floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading and received final approval on July 26 by vote of 19-12. Sen. Campbell said, "This bill protects homeowners and businesses from forced annexation and makes the municipal annexation process in Texas more democratic. Today's vote is a victory for the property rights of all citizens and I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for giving Texans a voice in the annexation process. It is simply wrong to force citizens who live outside the jurisdiction of a city to be absorbed solely to increase a city's tax base. As Texans, we must defend the right to determine who governs us, not let cities determine who they will govern."
  • SB 13 by Konni Burton would shorten the deadlines for approval of local building permit applications. The committee substitute and 4 floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading and received final Senate passage on July 26 by a vote of 18-13.
  • SB 14 by Bob Hall would prohibit municipalities from restricting the ability of property owner to remove a tree or vegetation from the owner's private property. Three floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading and received final Senate passage on July 26 by a vote of 19-12.
PASSED THE HOUSE
  • HB 7 by Dade Phelan would require a municipality that imposes a fee for tree removal to allow the person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee. It was reported favorably from the House Urban Affairs Committee on July 25. On July 27, it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 132-11. It received final House approval on July 28 by a vote of 130-9.
On July 25, the House Urban Affairs Committee took up:
  • HB 70 by Paul Workman would prohibit municipalities from restricting the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation from the owner's private property. It was left pending. Note: the companion, SB 14, has passed the Senate.
  • HB 77 by Drew Darby would prohibit the taking of a portion of land by a municipality in order to develop the remaining property without reasonable alternatives. It was left pending.
PUBLIC EDUCATION
PASSED THE SENATE
  • SB 2 by Larry Taylor would establish a tax credit scholarship and educational assistance program to provide scholarships or educational expense assistance to students with a disability. And, it would provide additional formula funding for open-enrollment charter schools with an acceptable performance rating. Six floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 19-12 on July 24. On July 25, it received final Senate approval by the same vote.
  • SB 16 by Larry Taylor would establish the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to make recommendations for improvements to the current public school finance system or for new methods of financing public schools. Two floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading unanimously on July 24. On July 25, it received unanimous final Senate approval.
  • SB 19 by Jane Nelson would provide an annual bonus for classroom teachers with at least 6 years of teaching experience based on the number of years of teaching experience; and would provide funding to reduce costs for participants in the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program (TRS-Care). One floor amendment was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on July 25 by a vote of 28-3. On July 26, it received final Senate approval by the same vote. 
    • Senator Nelson said, "Teachers are the backbone of our educational system and should be at the forefront of our school finance discussions. I understand first-hand the impact teachers have, not only on the children they teach, but on our society as a whole. SB 19 rewards our teachers for their invaluable service to our state."
    • Lt. Gov. Patrick added, "Just before Special Session began, I announced it was my priority to direct more of our education funding to teachers. I also made a commitment to shore up the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Care for retired teachers. Tonight, I am proud to announce that the Texas Senate passed SB 19, which will achieve both those goals."
HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
On July 24, the House Public Education Committee took up:
  • HB 21 by Dan Huberty would make public school finance reforms including:
    • adding $1.9 billion into the public school finance system;
    • increasing the per-student basic allotment from $5,140 to $5,350 (decreasing recapture by $389 million);
    • providing $25 million in facilities funding to charter schools;
    • providing $200 million for a hardship grant program for school districts scheduled to lose Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) in September, 2017;
    • providing $75 million for facilities funding for fast-growth school districts; and
    • expanding high school career & technology (CTE) funding to 8th grade. It was initially left pending, but on July 25, it was voted out favorably as substituted.
  • HB 23 by Dan Huberty would require the Commissioner of Education to establish a program to award grants to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools that provide innovative services to students with autism. It was initially left pending, but it was voted out favorably on July 25.
  • HB 61 by Gina Hinojosa would allow a property wealthy school district to deduct its transportation allotment from the amount of recapture payments it sends to the state. It was left pending.
  • HB 62 by Gina Hinojosa would require the Commissioner of Education to reduce the taxable value of wealthy school district that provides social security coverage to its employees by the percentage of value equal to the percentage of the district's contribution for social security. It was left pending.
  • HB 194 by Trent Ashby would increase the small district adjustment under the foundation school program. It was left pending.
  • HB 197 by Diego Bernal would increase the weight of the bilingual education allotment from 0.1 to 0.25. It was left pending.
  • HB 234 by Diego Bernal would increase weight used to calculate compensatory education allotment for educationally disadvantaged students from 0.2 to 0.25. It was left pending.
  • HB 258 by Mary Gonzalez would change funding formulas under the Foundation School Program by the following. It was left pending.
    • repealing the High School Allotment and Public Education Grant Allotment;
    • increasing the Basic Allotment to $5,440 in 2018, $5,840 in 2019 and by 1% or the rate of inflation each year beginning in 2020; and
    • increasing the Bilingual Education Allotment weight from 0.1 to 0.25.
On July 25, the House Public Education Committee took up:
  • HB 22 by Ken King would delay expiration of Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) from September 2017 to September 2919. It was voted out favorably.
  • HB 98 by Diego Bernal would establish a Mentor Program Allotment in Foundation School Program and authorize the Commissioner of Education to determine the allotment for participating school districts. It was left pending.
  • HB 140 by Helen Giddings would authorize a school district to include full day of attendance for each pre-kindergarten (pre-k) student who attends a full-day pre-k program if the student is eligible for pre-k, the district does not charge tuition, and the program complies with the high-quality requirements. It was left pending.
  • HB 178 by Philip Cortez would expand funding for career & technology (CTE) allotment to 8th grade students. It was left pending.
  • HB 248 by Drew Springer would provide additional state aid to school districts that received additional state aid during the preceding school year. It was left pending.
  • HB 256 by Diego Bernal would require the Legislative Budget Board to recommend the equalized funding elements necessary to enable each student to achieve satisfactory performance on each required assessment instrument. It was left pending.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE 
On July 25, the House Appropriations Committee took up:
  • HB 20 by Trent Ashby would appropriate $150 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund to retired school employees group insurance fund (TRS-Care) to be used to decrease premiums and deductibles for the 2018 and 2019 plan years. It was initially left pending, but on Thursday, it was voted out favorably as substituted.
  • HB 24 by Drew Darby would increase the minimum salary schedule for teachers and full-time school librarians, counselors, and nurses. It was initially left pending, but on July 27, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 76 by Drew Darby would lower Teacher Retirement System retiree health care premiums. It was left pending.
  • HB 80 by Drew Darby would provide a cost-of-living adjustment to Texas retired teachers to help them afford increasing health insurance premiums. It was initially left pending but on July 27, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 151 by Lance Gooden would appropriate $1 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund to retired school employees group insurance fund (TRS-Care) to reduce deductibles, enhance coverage for prescription drugs, and reduce out-of-pocket costs. It was left pending.
  • HJR 18 by Donna Howard would propose a constitutional amendment requiring the state to pay at least 50% of the cost of public education. It was left pending.
TAX
PASSED BY THE SENATE
SB 1 by Paul Bettencourt would make several property tax reforms. Nine floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 20-11 on July 24. On July 25, 3 additional floor amendments were adopted and it received final Senate approval by a vote of 19-12. Senator Bettencourt said, "A 4% rollback with automatic elections for all taxing jurisdictions, and an opt in for smaller jurisdictions, is a powerful tax reform package that will have long term savings for taxpayers. SB 1 solves the real problem that when appraised values go up, tax rates rarely come down. City, county, and special district local property tax revenues have been growing twice as fast as school district revenues over the last 10 years. That is an astonishing amount of money flowing from Texans' checkbooks into government's pocketbook. It is time to let people have a vote, and trust their vote, on their rising property taxes."
 
On July 25, the House Ways & Means Committee took up:
  • HB 3 by Dennis Bonnen would be the Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act of 2017. It would:
    • allow the appraisal review board (ARB) to deliver information to a property owner in an electronic format if agreed to by the property owner;
    • require the comptroller to appoint a property tax administration advisory board to advise the comptroller regarding state administration of property taxes and state oversight of appraisal districts and local tax offices;
    • require training and continuing education for appraisal review board members and arbitrators;
    • change the "effective Maintenance and operations rate" to the "no-new-revenue maintenance and operations rate" and change the "effective tax rate" to the "no-new-revenue tax rate;"
    • require the comptroller to prescribe tax rate calculation forms to be used by taxing units to calculate the no-new-revenue tax rate and the rollback tax rate;
    • institute anti-nepotism requirements for ARB members;
    • establish special three-member ARB panels for property appraised at $50 million or more in counties with a population of one million or more;
    • require appraisal districts to maintain a searchable, continuously updated and publicly accessible property tax database that includes property values, property taxes, tax rates, hearing dates and other related information;
    • prohibit a taxing unit from contesting the appraisal of a category of property;
    • prohibit an appraisal district from charging a property owner for copies of information related to an appraisal review board hearing;
    • prohibit an ARB from determining the appraised value of a property subject to a protest to be a greater amount than the original appraised value of the property; and
    • prohibit ARB hearings on Sundays. It was left pending.
  • HB 4 by Dennis Bonnen would reduce the rollback rate from 8% to 5% except for school districts and small taxing units (those with tax rates of 2 cents or less or imposing taxes of $25 million or less). It was initially left pending, but on Friday, it was voted out favorably as substituted. The substitute has a 6% rollback, automatic elections and exempts community colleges.
  • HB 55/HJR 17 by Mike Schofield would change the school district homestead exemption from $25,000 to either $25,000 or 13% of the market value of the home, whichever is greater. They were left pending.
  • HB 71/HJR 19 by Dwayne Bohac would institute 5% annual appraisal cap on homestead property. They were left pending.
  • HB 72/HJR 20 by Dwayne Bohac would propose a constitutional amendment granting an ad valorem tax exemption on the homestead of a Purple Heart recipient. They were initially left pending but were voted out favorably on July 28.
  • HB 74 by Scott Cosper would provide state aid to local governments disproportionately affected by granting ad valorem tax relief to 100% disabled veterans or their surviving spouses. It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 84/HJR 22 by Will Metcalf would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to reduce the annual appraisal cap on a residence homestead from 10% to 5%. They were left pending.
  • HB 108 by Jim Murphy would set the annual interest rate during the deferral or abatement period for property owned by individuals who are 65 years of age or older at the five-year Constant Maturity Treasury Rate reported by the Federal Reserve as of January 1 of the year in which the deferral or abatement was obtained (instead of 5%). It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 115 by Greg Bonnen would authorize persons serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces to pay delinquent property taxes without penalty or interest if the delinquent taxes are paid within 60 days after the person is discharged from active military service. It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 116 by Tomas Uresti would authorize property taxpayers over 65 years of age or disabled to pay property taxes in installment payments. It was left pending.
  • HB 119/HJR 25 by Hugh Shine would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing taxing units (except school districts) to grant an additional homestead exemption of at least $5,000 and up to 20% of the average market value of residence homesteads. They were left pending.
  • HB 124 by Greg Bonnen would require school district tax rate ratification elections to be held on the first uniform election date that allows sufficient time to comply with legal requirements (instead of a date between 30 and 90 days after the date on which the tax rate is adopted). It was initially left pending but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 129/HJR 27 by Jeff Leach would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the veteran's surviving spouse based on the veteran's disability rating. They were initially left pending, but on July 26, they were voted out favorably.
  • HB 155 by Dade Phelan would authorize an appraisal review board (ARB) to order appraised value of a residence homestead if the property sold for at least 10% less than appraised value and the ARB determines that the sales price represents the market value of the property. It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 158 by Will Metcalf would set the annual interest rate during a property tax deferral or abatement period for a residence homestead that has been appraised at more than 105% of the preceding year's appraised value at 5% (instead of 8%). It was left pending.
  • HB 159 by Will Metcalf would set the annual interest rate during a property tax deferral or abatement period for a residence homestead of persons who are 65 years of age or older or disabled at 5% (instead of 8%). It was left pending.
  • HB 165 by Charlie Geren would authorize a property owner to appeal an order of an appraisal review board to district court and would allow the district court to issue a final determination without remanding the case back to the appraisal review board. It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 179/HJR 30 by Kevin Roberts would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a homestead exemption of disabled first responders and their surviving spouses. They were initially left pending, but on July 26, they were voted out favorably.
  • HB 190/HJR 32 by Richard Raymond would propose constitutional amendment appropriating $3 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund to finance a temporary increase in the residence homestead exemption for school property taxes. They were left pending.
  • HB 192 by Phil King would prohibit the chief appraiser from increasing the appraised value of property in a tax year following a successful appraisal appeal in which the appraised value was lowered unless the increase is reasonably supported by clear and convincing evidence. It was initially left pending, but on July 26, it was voted out favorably.
  • HB 196/HJR 33 by Will Metcalf would propose a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to limit appraisal increases to 5% per year. They were left pending.
  • HB 239/HJR 38 by Giovanni Capriglione would propose a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt precious metal held in the Texas Bullion Depository from property taxes. They were initially left pending, but on July 26, they were voted out favorably.
  • HJR 35 by Dennis Bonnen would propose a constitutional amendment capping annual appraisals on commercial and industrial real property at 20%. It was left pending.
  • HJR 39 by Greg Bonnen would propose a constitutional amendment limiting maintenance and operation tax rates and amount of debt associated with special purpose districts created after December 31, 2018. It was left pending.
On July 28, the House Ways & Means Committee took up HB 32 by Dennis Bonnen would be the Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act of 2017. It would:
  • allow the appraisal review board (ARB) to deliver information to a property owner in an electronic format if agreed to by the property owner;
  • require the comptroller to appoint a property tax administration advisory board to advise the comptroller regarding state administration of property taxes and state oversight of appraisal districts and local tax offices;
  • require training and continuing education for appraisal review board members and arbitrators;
  • change the "effective maintenance and operations rate" to the "no-new-revenue maintenance and operations rate" and change the "effective tax rate" to the "no-new-revenue tax rate;"
  • require the comptroller to prescribe tax rate calculation forms to be used by taxing units to calculate the no-new-revenue tax rate, the rollback tax rate, and the rate to maintain the same amount of state and local revenue per weighted student that the district received in the school year beginning in the preceding tax year;
  • require to comptroller to maintain a list of tax rates for each taxing unit and require each appraisal district to report that information on a form prescribed by the comptroller;
  • require the comptroller to prepare an appraisal review board survey form that allows for taxpayer input and prepare an annual report that summarizes the information received;
  • require appraisal districts in counties with a population of one million or more to increase the size of the district's ARB as appropriate to manage the duties of the ARB;
  • institute anti-nepotism requirements for ARB members;
  • establish special three-member ARB panels for commercial, industrial, manufacturing, utility or multifamily residential property appraised at $50 million or more in counties with a population of one million or more;
  • require appraisal districts to maintain a searchable, continuously updated and publicly accessible property tax database that includes property values, property taxes, tax rates, hearing and meeting dates and other related information;
  • prohibit a taxing unit from contesting the appraisal of a category of property;
  • prohibit an appraisal district from charging a property owner for copies of information related to an appraisal review board hearing;
  • prohibit an ARB from determining the appraised value of a property subject to a protest to be a greater amount than the original appraised value of the property;
  • require the ARB to make a determination within 20 business days of the conclusion of the protest hearing;
  • allow the ARB to schedule all protests filed by property owner to be held consecutively; and
  • prohibit ARB hearings on Sundays.
It was reported out favorably.
STATUS UPDATE ON SPECIAL SESSION ISSUES
SUNSET LEGISLATION    
The specific call says, "Legislation amending sections 151.004, 501.005, 502.003, 503.005, and 505.005 of the Texas Occupations Code to extend the expiration dates applicable to the Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 20 by Van Taylor, which extends the sunset dates to Sept. 1, 2019, has passed the Senate; and SB 60 by Van Taylor, which repeals appropriations contingency riders for Texas Medical Board and Board of Examiners of Psychologists, has passed the Senate. HB 1 by Larry Gonzales, which extends the sunset dates to Sept. 1, 2019, has passed the House; and HB 2 by Larry Gonzales, which repeals appropriations contingency riders, has passed the House.
 
TEACHER PAY INCREASE OF $1,000  
The specific call says, "Legislation to increase the average salary and benefits (including TRS-Care) of Texas teachers; and legislation to provide a more flexible and rewarding salary and benefit system for Texas teachers."

BILLS/STATUS: HB 198 by Travis Clardy, which establishes an average $1,000 pay raise by creating new teacher distinctions, establishes a Teacher Quality Allotment, and provides funding for teacher pay raises and retention, has been referred to House Public Education Committee. SB 19 by Jane Nelson, which provides bonuses for teachers and addresses the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program, has passed the Senate. HB 20 by Trent Ashby, which would appropriate $150 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund to the retired school employees group insurance fund (TRS-Care) to be used to decrease premiums and deductibles, has been reported favorably from the House Appropriations Committee. HB 24 by Drew Darby, which would increase the minimum salary schedule for teachers and full-time school librarians, counselors and nurses, has been reported favorably from the House Appropriations Committee.
 
SCHOOL FINANCE REFORM 
The specific call says, "Legislation establishing a statewide commission to study and recommend improvements to the current public school finance system; and other legislation relating to school finance, including Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR)." 
 
BILLS/STATUS: SB 16 by Larry Taylor, which would establish a commission to recommend improvements to the public school finance system, has passed the Senate. HB 191 by Phil King, the House companion to SB 16, has been referred to the House Public Education Committee. HB 21 by Dan Huberty is a school finance reform bill that puts $1.9 billion into the school finance system, increases the basic allotment, provides facilities funding for charter schools, helps ASATR schools, and expands CTE, has been reported favorably from the House Public Education Committee. HB 30 by John Zerwas appropriates almost $2 billion to the Texas Education Agency to increase the basic allotment, and $30 million to assist with the cost of educating students with disabilities, paid for by deferring the August 2019 Foundation School Program payment to Sept. 2019, has been reported favorably from the House Appropriations Committee.
 
SCHOOL CHOICE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS 
The specific call says, "Legislation to empower parents of children with special needs or educational disadvantages to choose an educational provider that is best for their child."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 2 by Larry Taylor, which establishes a tax credit scholarship and educational expense assistance program, has passed the Senate. HB 52 by Ron Simmons, which would give parents choice of the school for their special needs child, including public, private, or homeschool; and HB 58 by Ron Simmons, which would allow a taxable entity to take an insurance premium tax credit for making a contribution to an educational assistance organization to be used to pay educational expenses for special education or disabled students to attend a public or private school, have been referred to the House Public Education Committee.
 
PROPERTY TAX REFORM 
T
he specific call says, "Legislation reforming the laws governing ad valorem property taxes."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 1 by Paul Bettencourt, which is the Texas Property Tax Reform & Relief Act of 2017, has passed the Senate. HB 3 by Dennis Bonnen, which reforms the appraisal appeal process and strengthens taxpayer rights and information, was heard in the House Ways & Means Committee and left pending. HB 4 by Dennis Bonnen, which reduces the rollback rate from 8% to 6%, was reported favorably as substituted from the House Ways & Means Committee. HB 32 by Dennis Bonnen, which would be the Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act of 2017, was reported favorably from the House Ways & Means Committee on July 27.
 
CAPS ON STATE & LOCAL SPENDING 
The specific call says, "Legislation using population growth and inflation to establish a spending limit for state government; and legislation using population growth and inflation to establish a spending limit for political subdivisions."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 9 by Kelly Hancock, which sets the constitutional spending cap on population growth and inflation, has passed the Senate. HB 208 by Tan Parker, which limits the growth in state spending to population growth and inflation, was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on July 27 and left pending. HB 41 by Mike Schofield, a House companion to SB 9, was filed on July 10 and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. SB 18 by Craig Estes, which sets a spending limit for local governmental entities, was on the Senate calendar on July 26, but was postponed to July 31.
 
PREVENTING CITIES FROM REGULATING WHAT PROPERTY OWNERS DO WITH TREES ON PRIVATE LAND 
T
he specific call says, "Legislation protecting the private property rights of land owners from political subdivision rules, regulations, or ordinances that interfere with, delay, or restrict private property owners' ability to use or enjoy their property."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 14 by Bob Hall, which would prohibit political subdivision rules, regulations and ordinances that interfere with a private property owner's right to plant, transplant, and remove trees and vegetation from their own property, has passed the Senate. HB 70 by Paul Workman, the House companion for SB 14, was heard in the House Urban Affairs Committee on July 25 and was left pending. HB 7 by Dade Phelan, which would require a municipality that imposes a fee for tree removal to allow the person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee, has passed the House. Note: HB 7 is the same bill as SB 744 from the regular session, which was vetoed by the governor.
 
SPEEDING UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERMITTING PROCESS 
The specific call says, "Legislation expediting the issuance of permits by political subdivisions and reforming the laws governing the issuance of permits by political subdivisions."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 13 by Konni Burton, which limits the time for municipalities and counties to approve or deny a building permit, has passed the Senate. HB 164 by Paul Workman, the House companion to SB 13, has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
 
PREVENTING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM CHANGING RULES MIDWAY THROUGH CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS 
The specific call says, "Legislation preventing political subdivisions from imposing on private property additional or enhanced regulations that did not exist at the time the property was acquired."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 12 by Dawn Buckingham, which would prohibit cities and counties from enforcing an order or regulation adopted by the city or county that prohibits or restricts the use or development of real property that has been platted if the ordinance was not in effect on the date the owner acquired title to the property, was heard in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee on July 22 and was left pending. HB 188 by Cecil Bell, Jr., the House companion to SB 12, was filed on July 17 and has been referred to the House Land & Resource Management Committee.
 
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING PREEMPTION 
The specific call says, "Legislation preempting local regulation of the use of hand-held mobile communication devices while driving."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 15 by Don Huffman, which preempts local regulation of the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, has passed the Senate. HB 171 by Craig Goldman, the House companion to SB 15, was heard in the House Transportation Committee on July 27 and left pending.
 
PRIVACY 
The specific call says, "Legislation regarding the use of multi-occupancy showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 3 by Lois Kolkhorst, which prohibits local regulation of bathrooms and changing facilities, has passed the Senate. HB 46 by Ron Simmons, which would prohibit political subdivisions from creating a protected class over and above what state or federal law provides; and HB 50 by Ron Simmons, which would specify that no school district may create a protected class above what state or federal law provides, were filed on July 10 and have been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
 
PROHIBITION OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO COLLECT UNION DUES 
The specific call says, "Legislation prohibiting state or local government entities from deducting labor union or employee organization membership fees or dues from the wages of public employees."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 7 by Bryan Hughes, which would prohibit payroll deductions for state and local government employee organizations, has passed the Senate. HB 156 by Jason Isaac, the House companion to SB 7, was filed on July 14 and referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
 
PROHIBITION OF TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR ABORTION PROVIDERS 
The specific call says, "Legislation prohibiting financial transactions between a governmental entity and an abortion provider or affiliate of the abortion provider."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 4 by Charles Schwertner, which prohibits governmental entities from providing funding to an abortion provider or affiliate, has passed the Senate. HB 163 by Drew Springer, the House companion to SB 4, was filed on July 14, but has not been referred to a committee in the House.
 
PRO-LIFE INSURANCE REFORM 
The specific call says, "Legislation restricting health plan and health benefit plan coverage for abortions."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 8 by Brandon Creighton, which would prohibit health plans from providing coverage for elective abortions unless it is provided through supplemental coverage, has passed the Senate. HB 214 by John Smithee, the House companion to SB 8, was heard in the House State Affairs Committee on July 26 and was left pending.
 
STRENGTHENING ABORTION REPORTING REQUIREMENTS WHEN HEALTH COMPLICATIONS ARISE 
The specific call says, "Legislation strengthening the laws applicable to the reporting of abortions and abortion complications to the Department of State Health Services."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 10 by Donna Campbell, which requires health care facilities to report complications from abortions, has passed the Senate. HB 13 by Giovanni Capriglione, the House companion to SB 10, has passed the House.
 
STRENGTHENING PATIENT PROTECTIONS RELATING TO DO-NOT-RESUSCITATE ORDERS 
The specific call says, "Legislation enhancing patient protections contained in the procedures and requirements for do-not-resuscitate orders."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 11 by Charles Perry, which would revise procedures and requirements for do-not-resuscitate orders, has passed the Senate. HB 12 by Greg Bonnen, the House Companion to SB 11, was filed on July 18 and has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
 
CRACKING DOWN ON MAIL-IN BALLOT FRAUD 
The specific call says, "Legislation enhancing the detection, prosecution, and elimination of mail-in ballot fraud."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 5 by Kelly Hancock, which would increase the criminal penalties for election fraud, has passed the Senate. HB 184 by Craig Goldman, the House companion to SB 5, was heard in the House Elections Committee on July 28.
 
EXTENDING MATERNAL MORTALITY TASK FORCE 
The specific call says, "Legislation continuing the operation and expanding the duties of the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force to ensure action is taken to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Texas."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 17 by Lois Kolkhorst, which expands the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force, has passed the Senate. HB 9 by Cindy Burkett, the House companion to SB 17, has been reported favorably as substituted from the House Public Health Committee. Three similar bills, HB 10 by Armando Walle, HB 11 by Shawn Thierry, and HB 28 by Lina Ortega, which also expand the task force, have been reported favorably from the House Public Health Committee.
 
MUNICIPAL ANNEXATION REFORM 
The specific call says, "Legislation reforming the authority of municipalities to annex territory, to exert control over territory, or to regulate the use of annexed land or land in a municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction."

BILLS/STATUS: SB 6 by Donna Campbell, which is the Texas Annexation Right to Vote Act, has passed the Senate. HB 6 by Dan Huberty, the House companion to SB 6, was filed on July 18 and has been referred to the House Land & Resource Management Committee.
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