News Article | February 17, 2023
Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol
Gov. Abbott Issues Emergency Items
Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his biennial State of the State address on Thursday, outlining his priorities for the legislative session. His designation of seven emergency items allows those matters to be taken up immediately by the Legislature. Other legislation will need to wait for March 10 or day 60, as prescribed by the Texas Constitution. House and Senate committees can immediately post for public hearings on the seven emergency items, titled:
- Fight the fentanyl crisis.
- Secure the border.
- End revolving-door bail.
- School safety.
- Education freedom.
- End Covid restrictions forever.
- Cut property taxes.
Statements detailing each item are available on Abbott's website.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Announces Top Priorities
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick added detail to the legislative priorities he announced in December when he released his 30 priority bills for the 2023 session in a press release on Monday. Patrick's list reserves the low-numbered Senate Bills 1-30 for his priorities and will be the mechanism for legislative action on the proposals. Counties stand to directly benefit from several of the bills on Patrick's list, including the state budget, new financial assistance from the state for rural law enforcement funding, additional state mental health beds, preparations for Texas' future water needs and potentially others. Only the budget (Senate Bill 1) has been filed so we do not yet know authors or details beyond brief descriptions in Patrick's press release.
Record Number of Bills to be Filed?
More than 3,300 bills have been filed this session. Though there are just three weeks to go before the March 10 bill filing deadline, count on that number to at least double. Last session, even with significant pandemic disruptions on Capitol operations, nearly 7,000 bills were filed – just a few hundred shy of the prior session's 7,324. The last time the Capitol saw fewer bills from one session to the next was 2011. With bill drafting requests up nearly 20% from last session, that streak is unlikely to be broken.
Tax Assessor-Collector Testifies in Senate Finance
Shay Luedeke, Bell County Tax Assessor-Collector, testified in support of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles' (TxDMV) request to replace the state's registration and title system. The Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas' legislative platform supports the system's replacement; however, the TxDMV request for funding includes $6.75 million to start the project, which will cost about $100 million over two phases. Luedeke's testimony focused on the benefits to shared constituents for improvements to the system along with a need to fully fund the project in the near term to help counties with efficiently processing registration and title transactions.