DON'T MISS IT
Join the Plano Chamber of Commerce for our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting. This committee discusses legislation and issues that affect the business community. Attended by business professionals, elected officials, and key community representatives, these meetings are open to all members in good standing.
for more details.
PLANO CITY COUNCIL MEET & GREET
Meet your new Plano City Council Members on
Wednesday, September 6
at 8:30 AM following the Public Policy Committee Meeting at the Plano Chamber office.
On Wed., August 2, Rep. Sarah Davis, Chairman of the House General Investigating & Ethics Committee, along with her fellow committee members called on Gov. Abbott to add "Ethics Reform" to the official proclamation of the special session. Quoting Gov. Abbott, Chairman Davis stated, "The faith that people have in their democracy is linked to the trust they have in their elected officials. That trust is eroded if they perceive that elected officials are acting in anything other than the people's best interests." Chairman Davis then announced a package of ethics bills that includes:
- HB 15, which would prevent statewide elected officials from advocating for issues while receiving compensation immediately upon leaving office;
- HB 16, which would streamline the functions of the Texas Ethics Commission and provide increased oversight over local government campaign transparency, personal financial statements, and both in-state and out-of-state political action committees;
- HB 17, which would enhance disclosure requirements for vendors that contract with local governments;
- HB 18, which would extend conflict of interest disclosures required by state officers or state employees to members of a governing board or governing officers in a state agency and would restrict participation in decisions where these conflicts arise; and
- HB 19, which would ban campaign contributions to the legislative and executive branches during a special session, prevent the governor from accepting campaign contributions during the twenty-day veto period following a regular or special session.
Committee member Hugh Shine added, "The Committee on General Investigating & Ethics is committed to creating strong ethical standards which political subdivisions across the state can embrace, support, and enforce. Our constituents need to have their faith restored in the elected officials in the state of Texas and these ethics bills are a step in the right direction."
Several government watchdog groups, that are members of the Integrity Texas network of consumer and public interest organizations, voiced their support for Rep. Sarah Davis' request for the Governor to add ethics legislation to his special session call.
Dave Jones, President of
Clean Elections Texas
said, "It is not 'showboating' to offer important legislation, representing real ethics reform, in the face of the Governor's heavy-handed and misguided special session calls for control over local government tree trimming and bathroom ordinances. If local tree-trimming rules justify the legislature's attention in a special session, then real ethics reform certainly merits consideration.
Craig McDonald, Director of
Texans for Public Justice
added, "The ethics issues addressed by this proposed legislation should be considered a high priority, meriting 'emergency' attention now in a special session. Despite declaring ethics reform an emergency item the past two sessions, Abbott has failed to deliver. Rather than ridicule legislators who want to tackle ethics reform, he should embrace their efforts. Trees and bathroom bills should move to the back of the line."
Anthony Gutierrez, Executive Director of
Common Cause Texas
concluded, "So much of what is being debated in this special session is entirely about political posturing. Adding ethics reform to the agenda would give legislators an opportunity to work on productive solutions for actual problems."
The Senate was in session very briefly on July 31 and August 3-4 last week.
On Monday, July 31, Senator Kirk Watson convened the Senate in a mostly empty chamber for less than one minute to receive a motion in writing from Senator John Whitmire for the Senate to recess until 3 PM on August 3 pending receipt of bills from the House and for reading and referral of bills. On August 3, the Senate was in session for 8 minutes. They conducted routing business, but did not take up any legislation. On August 4, the Senate convened again briefly and recessed until Monday, August 7.
The Senate reconvened on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 3:00 PM.
The House was in session July 31 through August 4 last week.
On Monday, July 31, the House gave preliminary approval to HB 9 by Cindy Burkett, which would continue the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force and expand its duties; HB 10 by Armando Walle, which would also continue the task force and expand its duties; HB 11 by Shawn Thierry, which would require the task force to study at-risk mothers; and HB 28 by Lina Ortega, which would increase the membership of the task force.
Rep. Lina Ortega
said, "I am grateful to have unanimously passed HB 28, which adds both a labor and delivery nurse and a critical care doctor to The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. A labor and delivery nurse has greater firsthand knowledge of the potential complications women experience during childbirth, and a critical care doctor understands what is necessary to stabilize patients with life-threatening conditions. Adding these specialists will further enhance the knowledge and experience the task force calls upon to help us understand the best ways to address the maternal mortality crisis in our state."
On Tues., August 1, the House passed the Third Reading bills and gave preliminary approval to HB 20 by Trent Ashby, which would use Economic Stabilization Fund money to decrease health care costs for retired teachers; and HB 80 by Drew Darby, which would allow the Teacher Retirement System to make a cost-of-living adjustment to annuitants if funds are available.
On Wed., August 2, the House passed the 2 Third Reading bills. They gave preliminary approval to HB 32 by Dennis Bonnen, which would reform property tax appraisals, appeals, notices, and rate reporting;HB 74 by Scott Cosper, which would expand eligibility for funds to offset property tax exemptions for disabled veterans; HB 155 by Dade Phelan, which would allow appraisal review boards to make changes to appraisal records for up to two prior years if the property sells for at least 10% less than the appraised value; HB 165 by Charlie Geren, which would allow property taxpayers to appeal a tax protest to district court; and HB 192 by Phil King, which would change the evidentiary standard required to support a chief appraiser's decision to increase the appraised value of property in the year after a property's appraised value was lowered from "substantial evidence" to "clear and convincing evidence."
On Thursday, August 3, the House took up and passed the Third Reading bills. They adopted HJR 38 by Giovanni Capriglione, which would propose a constitutional amendment exempting deposits in the bullion depository from property taxes. And, they gave preliminary approval to HB 25 by Sarah Davis, which would increase reimbursement rates for Medicaid acute care therapy; HB 26 by Lyle Larson, which would change the groundwater permitting process; HB 27 by Lyle Larson, which would establish a brackish groundwater operating permit process; HB 108 by Jim Murphy, which would float the interest rate charged on deferred or abated property taxes; HB 215 by Jim Murphy, which would require physicians to report additional information regarding abortions on minors; HB 239 by Giovanni Capriglione, which is the enabling bill for HJR 38; and HB 275 by Trent Ashby, which would extend the terms of groundwater exporting permits.
On Friday, August 4, the House gave final approval to the bills they debated on Aug. 3 and gave preliminary approval to HB 21 by Dan Huberty, which would reform the public school finance system; HB 23 by Dan Huberty, which would establish a grant program for students with autism; and HB 30 by John Zerwas, which would increase public education funding. HB 22 by Ken King, which would expand additional state aid for tax reduction (ASATR), failed to pass to Third Reading by a vote of 61-67.
Additional information on these bills is included in the issue categories below.
The House reconvened on Monday, August 7 at 2:00 PM.
On Monday, July 31, the House Elections Committee took up
by Jim Murphy, which would require the ballot language required for voter authorization before a political subdivision can issue bonds to include:
It was initially left pending, but on Wednesday, August 2, it was voted out favorably
- A general description of the purpose of the debt;
- The total principal and interest authorized; and
- The amount of taxes required to pay the principal and interest.
On Wed., Aug. 2, the House State Affairs Committee took up SB 20
by Van Taylor, which would change the sunset dates for the Texas Medical Board, Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners from September 1, 2017 to September 1, 2019. It was left pending.
House Appropriations Committee
met on Monday, August 7 at 10:00 AM to take up
by Giovanni Capriglione, which would prohibit
money received from the federal government
from being deposited to the credit of the General Revenue Fund. It would require interest, other earnings, earned credits, and indirect cost recoveries received from the federal government to be deposited to the credit of the General Revenue Fund. It would require the comptroller to account for and administer federal money separately from money in the General Revenue Fund in a manner that ensures that federal money is used for its intended purpose.
PASSED THE HOUSE
by Lyle Larson, which 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:
- posts a notice,
- holds a hearing, and
- makes written findings supporting the moratorium.
The moratorium would expire 90 days after issuance and could not be extended. On Aug. 3, it passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. On Aug. 4, it received unanimous final House approval.
by Lyle Larson, which 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. On Aug. 3, it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 141-1. On Aug. 4, it received unanimous final approval in the House.
by Trent Ashby, which 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. On Aug. 3, it passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. On Aug. 4, it received unanimous final approval by the House.
On Wed., Aug. 2, the House Environmental Regulation Committee took up
by Geanie Morrison, which would add a definition of "grease trap waste," "grit trap," and "grit trap waste" to the definition of "land application unit" in the Health & Safety Code and would prohibit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from issuing a permit, registration, or other authorization for land application of grit or grease trap waste except for municipal solid waste landfill or facility or compost facility. It was left pending.
Also on Wednesday, the House Agriculture & Livestock Committee took up HB 103
by Phil Stephenson, which would establish the Pesticide Disposal Fund administered by the Texas Dept. of Agriculture composed of pesticide registration fees to administer pesticide waste and container collection activities. It was voted out favorably.
- HCR 28 by Joe Pickett, which would direct TCEQ to identify the minimum state motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program required to maintain air quality in compliance. It was reported out favorably.
- HCR 29 by Ed Thompson, which would direct TCEQ to conduct an assessment of the safety and regulation of municipal solid waste facilities. It was reported out favorably.
- HCR 30 by Geanie Morrison, which would direct TCEQ to maintain its opposition to the Beneficial Land Management request to land apply grease and grit trap waste. It was reported out favorably.
No legislative action was taken this week on the "bathroom" issue, but grassroots activists on both sides of the issue were present around the capitol this week.
On Monday, July 31, Texas Values and Vision America made visits in Texas House members' offices arguing that a majority of Texans are behind HB 46.
Texas Values Policy Analyst Nicole Hudgens
said, "Texans deserve to have a fair hearing on this issue. Texans do not want local and federal governments, and big businesses bullying us into putting dollars before daughters."
Vision America Founder Pastor Rick Scarborough said, "I was graciously received by Chairman Byron Cook to discuss HB 46. As the powerful chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, the bill cannot receive a floor vote until first clearing his committee. After a few courteous exchanges, we discussed my desire for HB 46 to be heard and voted on in State Affairs, and then proceed to the Calendars Committee to be assigned a date to be heard on the floor of the Texas House. I reminded Chairman Cook that over 75% of Texans are in favor of keeping men out of women's restrooms, showers, and locker rooms, but he made it more than clear that the will of a small minority and the deep pockets of big businesses were a higher priority for him and the bill would not get out of his committee. It appears that money and special interest groups are more important to Chairman Cook than the will of the vast majority of Texans. Chairman Cook is holding HB 46 hostage in his committee and he should be held accountable by voters next spring if he fails to do the right thing."
On Thursday, August 3, Texas Values organized a group of Texas pastors and faith leaders who rallied at the capitol. The group went to the office of Rep. Byron Cook, Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee. They chanted "Let the House vote" outside of Rep. Cook's locked office door. The group presented a letter to Texas House members, signed by more than 1,000 pastors across Texas, urging the House to allow the Texas Privacy Act to be heard on the floor.
Nicole Hudgens, Texas Values Policy Analyst
and a speaker at a rally preceding the visits
, "We can no longer allow political correctness or the bullying of big business to diminish the worth of our girls. It is time for the Texas House to find their courage and bring this legislation to the House floor for a vote."
Speakers at the rally included: bill authors Senator Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Ron Simmons; Randy Wilson, national field director of Family Research Council; and Rev. William Owens of the Council of African American Pastors. The event was co-sponsored by Texas Values Action, Texas Pastor Council, Vision America, and Texas Right to Life, and was attended by representatives of Southern Baptist Convention of Texas; Texas Eagle Forum; Concerned Women for America of Texas; Texas Values Action; Texas Home School Coalition; Concerned Christian Citizens; Center for Preservation of American Ideals; Vision America; Fredericksburg Tea Party; Texas Pastor Council Action; Coalition of African American Pastors; Family Research Council; Family Policy Alliance; and American Family Association.
On Tuesday, August 1, a coalition of Texas religious leaders participating in an Interfaith Lobby Day organized byTexas Impact, a statewide, interfaith advocacy network, spoke against SB 3 and other "bathrooms bills" that they say would discriminate against transgender youth and adults. The theme was "Mainstream, Not Extreme." The speakers, who represent a range of faith community members, included leaders from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, and a non-denominational Christian parent of a transgender child.
Ray Tiemann of Seguin said, "We stand together with our transgender neighbors. We stand together to speak against the fear and hate that are fueling the discriminatory bathroom bills being debated in this Capitol."
United Methodist Bishop
(Ret.) Joel Martinez of San Antonio, a Texas civil rights leader, said faith communities "always stand on the side of the marginalized."
Sallie Sampsell Watson Mission Presbytery in San Antonio said, "In his own life, Jesus chose to hang with strangers and sinners, lawmakers and lepers, even women for God's sake. In the eyes of Jesus, everyone is neighbor. And for those of us who claim to follow Jesus and to live in obedience to the Great Commandment, treating and welcoming everyone as neighbor is exactly what we have to do."
Erik Gronberg of Fort Worth said, "Faith should not be used as a weapon. Instead, it should inspire us to see the humanity in every person, and remind us that we are commanded to love and care for our neighbor. Whether intended or not, the consequence of the proposed bathroom legislation will be to imperil and ostracize some of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, shining a light on their 'otherness'."
Esmail of Austin said, "Among the many names of Allah, one is al-Musawwir-the fashioner, the shaper. The Quran states, God is the one who shapes you in the wombs however He pleases. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, 'Indeed God does not look at your faces and bodies, rather he looks at your hearts and deeds.' I call upon the governor of Texas and the legislature: Enough of the transphobia. Y'all means all."
Mara Nathan of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio said, "Jews reject hate. Today is Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the month of Av in the Jewish calendar. In my tradition, Tisha B'Av is a day to remember past tragedies and reflect on the injustices, pain, and suffering we see in the world today. The bathroom bill does nothing to heal our world; it only trades on fear. We must stand up to confront baseless hatred with education, reason, and a sense of history."
Pastor Griff Martin of First Baptist Church
of Austin said, "I am here as a Baptist pastor, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Austin just a few blocks away, the church that Sam Houston started in order to speak truth to power in this state. And I am here to say to our transgender siblings and friends and beloved community - you deserve better and we will stand up for you, because that is what Jesus would say and do - and following Jesus, well that is a very Baptist thing."
TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS
On Monday, July 31, the Texas Association of Business (TAB) released results of surveys conducted in 5 GOP-controlled legislative districts across the state the week of July 24. Jeff Moseley, CEO of TAB said, "Texas business has long opposed the bathroom bill because it is unnecessary and will have significant negative economic impact on Texas. The significance of these surveys, is the voice of individual Republican primary voters echoing the business perspective with over 60% of the opposing respondents saying that the bill is unnecessary and distracts from the real issues facing Texas today."
The purpose of the surveys was to test general voter sentiments on a range of issues, including views on the so-called "bathroom bill" legislation. Political consultant and pollster Joe Counter said, "There was remarkably little variation from district-to-district and the cumulative statewide results mirrored the individual district results. The number of interviews (1,500) was very large and we are quite confident that the combined results are a very accurate reflection of Republican Primary voter sentiments on this issue. The survey results were essentially the same in every region with overwhelming opposition and/or indifference to the legislation." The districts polled were Senate District 8 (Van Taylor), Senate District 22 (Brian Birdwell), House District 15 (Mark Keough), House District 106 (Pat Fallon), and House District 136 (Tony Dale).
PASSED THE HOUSE
- 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. The committee substitute and 5 floor amendments were adopted and it unanimously passed to Third Reading on July 31. It received unanimous final approval on August 1. Note: the companion, SB 17, has passed the Senate.
- HB 10 by Armando Walle 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 and maternal health outcomes as a pay-for-quality measures. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on July 31 on a voice vote. On August 1, it received unanimous final approval.
- 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 and maternal health outcomes as a pay-for-quality measures. The committee substitute and 3 floor amendments were adopted and it passed unanimously to Third Reading on July 31. On August 1, 2 additional floor amendments were adopted and it received unanimous final approval on that day.
- HB 25 by Sarah Davis 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 Health & Human Services Commission for Medicaid acute care therapy services. On Aug. 3, 1 floor amendment was adopted and the bill unanimously passed to Third Reading. The amendment changed the funding mechanism from the Economic Stabilization Fund to Governor's Disaster Relief Fund. On Aug. 4, the House rejected an amendment by Rep. Byron Cook changing the funding back to Economic Stabilization Fund and it failed on a vote of 67-67 (Third Reading amendments require a 2/3 vote of the members present and voting). Then, it received unanimous final House approval.
- HB 28 by Lina Ortega would expand the membership of the Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Task Force from 13 to 14 members by adding one nurse specializing in labor and delivery. One floor amendment was adopted (adding a physician specializing in critical care) and it unanimously passed to Third Reading on July 31. On Aug. 1, it received unanimous final approval.
- HB 215 by Jim Murphy would require physicians who perform an abortion on a woman younger than 18 years old to report information in her medical record regarding whether the woman obtained parental consent, was granted a judicial bypass, or was in an emergency situation. It would require a physician who performs an abortion based on a severe and irreversible fetal abnormality to report the type of fetal abnormality. The committee substitute and 3 floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 92-48 on Aug. 3. On Aug. 4, it received final House approval by a vote of 97-46. Note: the companion, SB 73, has passed the Senate.
On Aug. 2, the House State Affairs Committee took up
by Charles Perry, which would limit the circumstances under which a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is valid. It was left pending. Note: the companion, HB 12, was also heard in the House State Affairs Committee and left pending.
On Aug. 4, the Senate Health & Human Services Committee took up SB 114
by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, which would create the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, and transfer the regulation of sex offender treatment providers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, chemical dependency counselors, and social workers to the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council; and would provide civil and administrative penalties, and authorize a fee. The Texas Behavioral Health Incubation Force would also be established to assist in creation of and transfer of regulatory programs to the executive council. It was left pending.
On Aug. 31, the
House Elections Committee
by Ron Reynolds, which would require Secretary of State's (SOS) study regarding
cyber attacks on election infrastructure
to be submitted to legislature on Sept. 1, 2018 instead of Dec. 1, 2018; would add administration of voting by mail to the study; and would require the SOS to consult with county election officials, local law enforcement officials, federal law enforcement officials, and experts in the field of cybersecurity risk and incident prevention. And, it would require county clerks to report a cyber attack or attempted cyber attack on the county's voting system to the SOS within 48 hours of discovery.
It was left pending.
PASSED BY THE HOUSE
- HB 20 by Trent Ashby 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 for the 2018 and 2019 plan years. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 1 by a vote of 130-10. On Aug. 2, it received final House approval by a vote of 136-13.
- 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 $200 million for a hardship grant program for school districts scheduled to lose Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) in Sept. 2017;
- providing $75 million for facilities funding for fast-growth school districts; and
- expanding high school career and technology (CTE) funding to 8th grade. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 4 by a vote of 130-12.
- 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 passed to Third Reading on Aug. 4 on a voice vote.
- 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 would defer the $1.9 billion Aug. 2019 Foundation School Program payment to Sept. 2019. It passed to Third Reading on Aug. 4 by a vote of 131-11.
- HB 80 by Drew Darby would provide a cost-of-living adjustment to Texas retired teachers to help them afford increasing health insurance premiums. Two floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 1 by a vote of 139-2. On Aug. 2, it received final House approval by a vote of 147-1.
- HB 54 by Shawn Thierry would require school districts to reimburse classroom teachers instructing students enrolled at or below the 6th grade level up to $600 per school year for the cost of classroom supplies purchased with personal money. It was left pending.
- HB 130 by Jeff Leach would require school districts to include a description of the district's total expenses related to administering required state assessments in its annual financial management report. It was left pending.
- HB 145 by Jessica Farrar would clarify that a social worker can provide social work services to students and families in a school or school district; and would require a social worker to collaborate with school administrators and other school professionals in order to enhance students' learning environments. It was left pending.
- HB 149 by Cindy Burkett would reduce the required days of service for educators in public schools to allow less than 180 days of service for educators on 10-month contracts in school districts that have less than 180 days of instruction; but would clarify that there would be no reduction of an educator's salary. It was left pending.
- HB 157 by Barbara Gervin-Hawkins would clarify that individuals who have a high school equivalency certificate are eligible for admission into the abbreviated educator preparation program for trade and industrial workforce training; and would expand the eligibility requirement for admission that includes seven years of full-time wage-earning experience to include military experience. It was left pending.
- HB 191 by Phil King 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. It was left pending. Note: the companion, SB 16, has passed the Senate.
- HB 198 by Travis Clardy would require school districts to ensure the average annual pay for classroom teachers in the 2019-20 school year is at least $1,000 more than the average annual pay in the 2016-17 school year. It would establish accomplished, distinguished, and master teacher designations and would establish a bonus program for teachers with those designations. It was left pending.
- HB 200 by Mary Gonzalez would establish the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to develop and make recommendations for improvements to the public school finance system. It was left pending.
- HB 204 by Dan Huberty would require students to have a physical examination that includes an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram prior to participation in a UIL event or activity. It was left pending.
- HB 224 by Morgan Meyer would require the Commissioner of Education to calculate recapture based on a three-year average of the district's average maintenance and operations cost per student. It was left pending.
- HB 231 by Tomas Uresti would include in the required report in school district performance reports:
- the length of service of the district's teachers,
- teacher transfers between campuses,
- teachers employed in a capacity other than as a teacher,
- teachers leaving the district for employment in another school district, and
- teachers leaving employment in public education. It was left pending.
- HB 232 by Helen Giddings would include pre-K in the class size limitation of 22 students in kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms. It was left pending.
- HB 253 by Ron Simmons would establish a tax credit scholarship and educational assistance program to provide scholarships or educational expense assistance to students with a disability. It was left pending. Note: the companion, SB 2, has passed the Senate and been referred to the House Public Education Committee.
- HB 263 by Nicole Collier would require open-enrollment charter schools to give enrollment preference to students who reside in the attendance zone of the school district in which the charter is located. It was left pending.
- HB 264 by Gina Hinojosa would prohibit an open-enrollment charter school from excluding a student from admission based on a documented history of a criminal offense, a juvenile court adjudication, or discipline problems. It was left pending.
- HB 272 by Linda Koop would authorize the Texas Public Finance Authority to issue and sell an aggregate amount of outstanding obligations not to exceed $100 million to finance:
- loans to eligible school districts;
- the purchase, lease, or lease-purchase of vehicles, equipment or appliances by eligible school districts; or
- costs associated with maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or renovation of eligible school district facilities. It was left pending.
- HB 290 by Drew Springer would create a new category of sparsity adjustment for a school district that is the only district operating a campus in a county. It was left pending.
- HB 306 by Mary Gonzalez would provide an automatic annual increase in the basic allotment based on the Consumer Price Index. It was left pending.
- HB 320 by Gary VanDeaver would require the Texas Education Agency to establish an enhancement program for students with disabilities. It was left pending.
- HB 324 by Harold Dutton would require school districts with a student enrollment of at least 1,000 African American males to be assigned accountability ratings for district and each campus based only on academic achievement differentials among African American males. It was left pending.
- HB 325 by Harold Dutton would include open-enrollment charter school students in the computation of a district's weighted average daily attendance. It was left pending.
- HB 363/HJR 52 by Donna Howard would propose a constitutional amendment allocating surplus state revenue to retired school employee group insurance fund administered by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
- HJR 53 by Dan Huberty would propose a constitutional amendment dedicating surplus state revenue in the economic stabilization fund public education.
The House Public Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, August 8 at 8:00 AM to take up:
- HB 125 by Jason Villalba would provide supplemental funding for open-enrollment charter schools.
- HB 255 by Ron Reynolds would provide a salary increase for public school teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses.
- HB 335 by Nicole Collier would require school districts to conduct first-draw tap tests of potable water outlets for lead contamination at least every 5 years.
- HB 340 by Poncho Nevarez would allow school districts to provide a salary bonus to teachers who complete autism training.
- HB 351 by Wayne Faircloth would establish the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to study and evaluate the feasibility of reducing recapture rates of school districts in which 65% or more of the student population is educationally disadvantaged or at risk of dropping out of school.
- HB 352 by Wayne Faircloth would provide that a school district that executes an agreement to purchase attendance credits necessary to reduce the district's wealth per student to equalized wealth level may reduce the total amount required to be paid for attendance credits by 25%.
- HB 354 by Jason Villalba would allow school districts to adopt teacher performance contracts and would increase basic allotment for school districts that adopt those contracts.
- HB 355 by James White would make several changes to public school finance system.
- HB 374 by Donna Howard would allow compensatory education allotment funding to be used to provide assistance to students at risk of dropping out of school because they are pregnant or are parents.
On Aug. 4, the Senate Business & Commerce Committee took up
by Van Taylor, which would change the sunset dates for the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners from Sept. 1, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2021; and set sunset schedule for Texas Military Department, Texas State Library & Archives Commission, and Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles from September 1, 2019 to September 1, 2023. It was reported out favorably.
On Aug. 3, the House Transportation Committee took up HB 327
by Sarah Davis, which would require local entities to place warning signs in areas where use of a wireless communication device is prohibited. It was left pending.
On Aug. 3, the House Transportation Committee took up HB 361
by Tony Dale, which would require a regional mobility authority to construct at least one adjacent non-tolled lane of frontage road for each direction of travel of a turnpike project. It was left pending.
PASSED THE HOUSE
- HB 32 by Dennis Bonnen, which 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 district's ARB as appropriate to manage the duties of 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;
- change "effective maintenance and operations rate" to "no-new-revenue" and "effective and rollback tax rate" to no-new-revenue and rollback tax rate;"
- 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 a property owner to be held consecutively; and
- prohibit ARB hearings on Sundays. Four floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 2 on a voice vote. On Aug. 3, two additional floor amendments were adopted and received unanimous final approval by House.
- 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. On Aug. 2, it passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. On Aug. 3, it received final House approval by a vote of 128-15.
- 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%). One floor amendment was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 3 on a voice vote. On Aug. 4, it received final House approval by a vote of 138-4.
- HB 155 by Dade Phelan would authorize an appraisal review board (ARB) to lower the appraised value of a residence homestead if the property sold for at least 10% less than the appraised value and ARB determines that the sales price represents market value of the property. One floor amendment was adopted and passed to Third Reading on a voice vote on Aug. 2. On Aug. 3, it received unanimous final House approval.
- 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. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed to Third Reading on Aug. 2 on a voice vote. On Aug. 3, it received unanimous final approval by the House.
- 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. On Aug. 2, it passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. On Aug. 3, it received final House approval by a vote of 139-4.
- 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. On Aug. 3, one floor amendment was adopted for HJR 38 and it was adopted by a vote of 125-14 (constitutional amendments do not require Third Reading if they receive more than 2/3 vote on Second Reading). Also on Aug. 3, one floor amendment was adopted and HB 239 passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. On Aug. 4, it received final House approval by a vote of 133-10.
- SB 1 by Paul Bettencourt would make several property tax reforms including:
- reducing the rollback rate from 8% to 4% except for school districts and small taxing units (those with tax rates of 2 cents or less or imposing taxes of $10 million or less), which would retain the 8% rollback rate;
- retaining the 8% rollback rate for taxing units in disaster situations;
- requiring rollback elections to be held on the November uniform election date;
- changing the term "effective tax rate" to "equivalent tax rate;"
- establishing a tax rate database for each appraisal district containing taxing unit info about proposed tax rates, estimated taxes, dates and locations of hearings, and taxing unit email addresses allowing taxpayers to make written comments;
- requiring taxing units to provide public official contact information, tax and budget information, and other financial information on the unit's Internet website;
- establishing special appraisal review board panels to hear protests by owners of commercial, industrial, utility, and multi-family property;
- prohibiting taxing unit challenges of all properties in a class or category of property owners; and
- requiring the comptroller to establish the property tax administration advisory board. It was reported favorably as substituted.
- HB 82/HJR 21 by Drew Darby would abolish school district maintenance and operations property taxes by 2020, forcing the legislature to implement a new way to fund schools for the 2020-21 school year. They were left pending. On Aug. 3, HJR 21 was voted out favorably as substituted.
- HB 168 by Gary VanDeaver would provide an alternative calculation of a school district rollback tax rate in school districts:
- whose 2005 tax rate was $1.50 or less,
- whose adopted tax rate was approved at an election in the 2006 tax year or any subsequent tax year;
- that have adopted a tax rate equal to or higher than the rate provided by the new procedure for any tax year in the preceding 10 tax years; and
- that in the 2016 or any subsequent tax year has adopted a tax rate that was lower than the tax rate that is the sum of the highest maintenance and operations tax rate adopted by the district for the 2007 tax year or any subsequent tax year in which the adopted tax rate of the district was approved at an election and the district's current debt rate. It was reported out favorably.
- HB 285 by Andrew Murr would eliminate maintenance and operations school property taxes and replace the revenue with a 12% sales tax. It was left pending.
- HB 301 by Matt Krause would implement a supplemental sales and use tax for local governments that do not impose a property tax. It would not be subject to or count in the calculation of 2% limit on cumulative rate of local sales & use taxes. It was left pending.
- HB 331 by Sarah Davis would require, instead of allow, the reappraisal of property in a disaster area at its market value after a disaster declared by the governor. It was reported out favorably.
- HB 358 by James White would increase the sales tax from 6.25% to 7.25% with the increased amount going to the Texas Education Agency to use to provide property tax relief. It was left pending.
- HB 92 by Eddie Rodriguez would revise the definition of qualified open-space land to require a chief appraiser to distinguish between degree of intensity required for various agricultural production methods, including organic, sustainable, pastured poultry, rotational grazing, & other uncommon production methods; and would revise definition of agricultural use to include the production of fruits & vegetables. It was left pending.
- HB 162 by Drew Springer would require the condemning entity in an eminent domain proceeding pay the change in use penalty if the taking of the property results in a change in use from open-spaced land. It was left pending.
- HB 223 by Drew Springer would allow the appraisal of land used by a public or private university for ecological research purposes as qualified open-space land only if the land was appraised that way in 2017. It was left pending.
- HB 249 by Larry Phillips would change the penalty for a change of use of open-space land from 5 years to 3 years imposed at market value plus an annual interest rate of 5% instead of 7%. It was left pending.
- HB 251 by Larry Phillips would remove requirement that land be appraised as qualified open-space land prior to qualifying for wildlife management land. It was left pending.
STATUS UPDATE ON SPECIAL SESSION ISSUES
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."
SB 20 by Van Taylor, which extends the sunset dates to Sept. 1, 2019, has passed the Senate, been heard in the House State Affairs Committee, and was left pending; 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 and been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. HB 1 by Larry Gonzales, which extends the sunset dates to Sept. 1, 2019, has passed the House, but has not been referred to Committee in the Senate; and HB 2 by Larry Gonzales, which repeals appropriations contingency riders, has passed the House and referred to the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.
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."
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 and left pending. SB 19 by Jane Nelson, which provides bonuses for teachers and addresses the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program, has passed the Senate and referred to the House Appropriations Committee. 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 passed the House. 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. HB 80 by Drew Darby, which would allow the Teacher Retirement System to make a cost-of-living adjustment to annuitants if funds are available, has passed the House.
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)."
SB 16 by Larry Taylor, which would establish a commission to recommend improvements to the public school finance system, has passed the Senate and referred to the House Public Education Committee. HB 191 by Phil King, the House companion to SB 16, has been referred to the House Public Education Committee and left pending. 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 passed to Third Reading in the House. 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 passed to Third Reading in the House.
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."
SB 2 by Larry Taylor, which establishes a tax credit scholarship and educational expense assistance program, has passed the Senate and been referred to the House Public Education Committee. 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
he specific call says, "Legislation reforming the laws governing ad valorem property taxes."
by Paul Bettencourt, which is the Texas Property Tax Reform & Relief Act of 2017, has passed the Senate and reported favorably as substituted from the House Ways & Means Committee. 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, has passed the House.
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."
SB 9 by Kelly Hancock, which sets the constitutional spending cap on population growth and inflation, has passed the Senate and referred to the House Appropriations Committee. HB 208 by Tan Parker, which limits the growth in state spending to population growth and inflation, was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Appropriations Committee. 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, was postponed to July 31, but has not been taken up.
PREVENTING CITIES FROM REGULATING WHAT PROPERTY OWNERS DO WITH TREES ON PRIVATE LAND
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."
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 and referred to the Senate Business & Commerce Committee. It is posted for a hearing in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee for Tuesday, Aug. 8. 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."
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."
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 left pending. HB 188 by Cecil Bell, Jr., the House companion to SB 12, 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."
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.
The specific call says, "Legislation regarding the use of multi-occupancy showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms."
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."
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."
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."
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, has been reported favorably from the House State Affairs Committee.
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."
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 and referred to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.
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."
CRACKING DOWN ON MAIL-IN BALLOT FRAUD
The specific call says, "Legislation enhancing the detection, prosecution, and elimination of mail-in ballot fraud."
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."
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 passed the House and referred to the Senate Health & Human Services 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 passed the House, but have not been referred to a Senate 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."
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