The final, do-or-die days of the 87th Texas Legislature have arrived. Here are a few highlights from this week's penultimate Tuesday Morning Breakfast.
The House State Affairs Committee passed Senate Bill 10 on May 14 on an 8-5 vote. While a committee substitute by the panel's chairman, Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), improves the Senate version by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and largely no longer affects associations, SB 10 nonetheless remains an unnecessary bill for counties and other local governments, Jim Allison, General Counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, said. The attempt to make it harder for local officials to effectively participate in the state policymaking process hasn't ended, Allison said. He encouraged county officials to remain vigilant until the session ends May 31.
SB 2256 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and House Bill 4507 by Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) are not companion bills but their triggering text is similar. If H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021 by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland), were to become federal law, both HB 4507 and SB 2256 would create separate registration processes and separate election dates for federal elections and state and local elections. Both bills would create an unfunded mandate on counties.
Left pending in the Senate Local Government Committee as of Tuesday's breakfast meeting, HB 1869 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would redefine debt covered by a county's debt service tax rate to debt that "has been approved at an election." The change would place many debt obligations under the maintenance and operations tax rate, which cannot be increased by more than 3.5% without voter approval. While a number of amendments favored by various counties were removed, Senate sponsor Paul Bettencourt (R – Houston) preserved two important exceptions for designated infrastructure and refunding of previously issued bonds.
Passing a state budget is the one constitutional obligation the Legislature must meet each 140-day session. TAC Financial Analyst Zelma Smith reported that the legislative conferees appeared to be on track to finalize SB 1, the state's 2022-23 biennial budget bill, this week with the bill heading to both chambers next week for final approval. For more information, visit TAC's State Budget webpage.
Register today for the last virtual Tuesday Morning Breakfast of the session on May 25 by 5 p.m. Monday, May 24. Login instructions will be sent with confirmation of your registration. Please contact Amy Ruedas at AmyR@county.org or (800) 456-5974 with any questions about the breakfast meetings.