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

​TAC on the Lege — Weekly Video Series​

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

​TAC on the Lege — It’s the final week of this special session, and sunset bills and sine die are in sight, but so is a revenue cap bill. SB 1 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Saturday. We’ll look at how it got here, where it could go and what county officials can do before it makes it to the floor. On the brighter side, we’ll also look at unfunded mandates in this episode. SB 5 may repeal one unfunded mandate, and HJR 31 could put an end to all future unfunded mandates.​​
Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol​​

The Week Behind Us and the Week(s) Ahead of UsWe are in the home stretch of the special session, which is set to conclude on Aug. 16. The House is scheduled to consider SB 1 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) on Saturday, Aug. 12. The​ current House version of the bill retains a lower revenue cap, changing the rollback rate from the current 8 percent to 6 percent with an automatic rollback election for larger taxing units. Small taxing units (defined to include counties collecting $25 million or less in total maintenance and operations (M&O) property taxes) would keep the current 8 percent rollback rate and the current petition requirements needed to compel a rollback election. The bill, however, can very easily change and become even more restrictive.

County officials are encouraged to contact their representatives and ask them to oppose SB 1. It centralizes more authority in Austin and limits the ability of local officials to govern and fund needed services, including public safety. Additionally, SB 1 does nothing to address the real pressure on local property taxes – school finance. The state’s share of school funding continues to decline at the expense of local property taxpayers, who must shoulder more of the burden.

County officials should also ask their representatives to provide unfunded mandate protection for counties, since these mandates are funded by local property taxes. HJR 31 by Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple), proposes a constitutional amendment to protect cities, counties and school districts from future unfunded mandates. The resolution remains pending in the Calendars Committee, which must vote to set the measure on the House Calendar before the chamber can consider it. Please encourage your representatives, as well as members of the Calendars Committee, to support HJR 31 and provide unfunded mandate relief.

"Don't You Lie to Me" - There was some movement on a few other bills this week. On Thursday, the House passed SB 5 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Richland Hills), which addresses mail-in ballot fraud by creating and expanding criminal offenses and enhancing certain penalties. The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, is one of the 20 items on Gov. Abbott’s agenda for the special session.

The House adopted an amendment to SB 5 that would repeal certain nursing home voting provisions that passed as part of HB 658 during the regular session. Specifically, the amendment repeals provisions set to take effect in September that require counties to set-up a temporary early voting polling location at a nursing home if at least five residents of the nursing home request mail-in ballots. Many election administrators and county officials expressed concerns about the practical implications and costs of implementing the requirements. The Senate concurred with the changes made by the House. The bill now heads to the governor.

"The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" - Additionally, the House passed two measures that address the principal trigger for the special session. SB 20 and SB 60, both by Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano), are the Sunset bills that will keep several state agencies open. The bills, which have already passed the Senate, now head to the governor.

“Be True to Your School” - There has also been some movement on school finance legislation, but a major overhaul of the current state of school funding remains unlikely. HB 21​ by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), which has already passed the House, would provide an additional $1.8 billion in school funding and help reduce the real pressure on local property taxes. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Friday, Aug. 11. However, Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), chair of the Education Committee, has indicated that the Senate does not generally support such a measure and would rather establish a commission to study the issue further. There is some potential for negotiations if a conference committee for the bill is appointed, but the legislation must pass the full Senate first.

As the special session winds down, things are moving quickly. Stay tuned for further updates.​

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