The legislature's interim work is well underway with committee chairs gaveling in members. Meetings began as early as December. Here are the highlights.
The Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) met Dec. 5 to lay out interim charges and adopt committee rules. Chairman Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) called on Texas A&M University System Vice Chancellor for Disaster and Emergency Services Nim Kidd to give an update on the state’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities. Kidd informed the committee that the road map for the emergency management during the interim stems directly from the 17 bills passed during the 86th Legislative Session that directly affect the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
County officials have played a vital role in drafting the high priority bills and participating in the interim work groups mandated by those new laws.
Kidd testified that TDEM's recommendations due back to the legislature in November 2020 will be driven from local officials' needs and participation. He noted that work groups are led by and include county judges.
Additionally, The Texas General Land Office (GLO) testified that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded funds to the state of Texas of about $5.6 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CBDG-DR) funds which are restricted primarily to housing recovery. The GLO is directly managed the funds in 48 of the 49 affected counties, however Houston and Harris County are directly managing their CBDG-DR funds of $1 billion each.
For more information on Senate IGR, contact Aurora Flores at (800) 456-5974.
The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) met on December 5, 2019, to discuss the following items of interest to counties.
Business Personal Property Tax
- Adam Haynes from the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, accompanied by Charles Reed (Dallas County), Russell Schaffner (Tarrant County), Jim Robinson (Harris County) and Andy Meyers (Commissioner from Fort Bend County) provided public testimony regarding the shift in tax burden from businesses to residents that would accompany increased exemptions for or the repeal of the business personal property tax.
- Dale Craymer of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) provided the business community’s point of view, which is to reduce and/or repeal the personal property tax because, among other things, it puts Texas at a competitive disadvantage to other states.
Monitoring legislation implementing the Supreme Court Wayfair Decision (HB 1525/HB 2153)
- Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA) staff provided an update on House Bill 1525 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) which provides a framework for implementing the Supreme Court's Wayfair decision in Texas by requiring remote sellers, electronic marketplace providers and sellers not physically located in the state to collect use taxes on purchases of taxable items in the state. CPA staff also touched on Burrow’s HB 2153, which establishes a single local use tax rate (1.75%) for calculating the amount of local use tax remote sellers with no physical location in Texas may use to calculate the tax they are required by HB 1525 to collect and remit to CPA. The 1.75 percent rate is intended to simplify calculations for remote sellers who are unable to determine the combined local use tax rate in Texas' various overlapping political jurisdictions.
- According to CPA staff, the estimated two-year revenue gain in the HB 1525 fiscal note (an additional $551 million to the state and an additional $19 million to counties and special districts that assess a local sales tax) will be exceeded.
Presentation materials from those providing invited testimony at hearing:
For more information on Senate Finance, contact Zelma Smith
at (800) 456-5974.