Around the Texas Capitol: Busy fall ahead for voters and legislators

Around the Texas Capitol: Busy fall ahead for voters and legislators

Return to August 2023 Dairy Dispatch

Note: Content below was posted and current as of Aug. 10, 2023

Around the Texas Capitol:
Busy fall ahead for voters and legislators

By Lauren Fairbanks and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

After the regular 88th legislative session followed by two back-to-back special sessions, the Texas Legislature has finally adjourned Sine Die for a third time. The saying goes that the “third time is the charm,” and that was certainly the case for the compromised legislation to deliver meaningful property tax relief to Texans.

Coming into the session on the heels of the last election cycle, the governor, lieutenant governor, Speaker of the House and every legislative member agreed that property tax relief was their number one priority. That priority was echoed back home in their districts where constituents from every corner of the state begged for relief.

While state leadership and the legislative body all agreed that priority was how they wanted to spend the bulk of the historic $32.7 billion surplus, everyone had different ideas about how it should be distributed back to taxpayers.

 The property tax relief package that was passed includes Senate Bills 2 and 3 and House Joint Resolution 2. The plan includes rate compression, an increased homestead exemption and an appraisal cap. The highlights of the $13 billion deal are:

  • More than $7 billion to compress school district Maintenance & Operations rates, an average reduction of 41%. The compression is on top of the $5.3 billion already passed in the 2024-2025 state budget to continue the 2019 reform;
  • An increase of the standard homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000;
  • A three-year trial run for a 20% appraisal cap on commercial and non-homestead residential properties valued at or below $5 million;
  • A $1.47 million increase to the state’s franchise tax exception; and
  • The creation of three elected positions on appraisal review boards in counties above 75,000 population.

The new compression and the homestead exemption will be effective this tax year. The appraisal cap will begin next year and run through the end of 2026 unless continued by the Legislature. The governor held a ceremonial signing for SB 2 and SB 3 on Aug. 9, with legislators from both parties and taxpayers from across the state in attendance to commend the package. HJR 2 will now go to voters for approval as Proposition 4 on the November ballot.

Also on the ballot will be Proposition 1, the Right to Farm measure. Last month in the Dairy Dispatch, you heard from State Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne) about the importance of the Right to Farm initiative he carried during the session.

With 14 total constitutional amendments to consider, Texas’ voters will have their work cut out for them when they go to the polls this fall.

The Texas Legislature will likely have a fair share of their own work to accomplish come fall. The Senate is slated to begin deliberations on the impeachment trial for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sept. 5. He is facing 16 articles of impeachment. Outside counsel has been retained to represent Paxton and to work with the House impeachment managers in the trial.

Following the trial, the governor is anticipated to call a third special session to consider school choice measures.

While it seems like summer will never end, with this excessive heat, before you know it, we’ll be zeroing in on the holidays and the end of the year. Dec. 11 marks the last day for candidates to declare their intent to run for office. Between now and December, we’ll be hearing retirement announcements from some incumbent legislators. They’ve already started trickling in, and more are expected in the coming months.

Retirement Announcements to Date:

HD 6. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) will not seek reelection.
HD 14. John Raney (R-Bryan) will not seek reelection.
HD 34. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) will not seek reelection.
HD 77. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) will not seek reelection.
HD 80. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) will not seek reelection.
HD 87. Four Price (R-Amarillo) will not seek reelection.
HD 115. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton) is running for Congress to replace Colin Allred.

 *SD 19. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) is running against Colin Allred/Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate. He does not forfeit his Texas Senate seat to run.

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