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2019 - 86th Legislative Session

In a marathon session Wednesday, the House passed its version of the biennial state appropriations bill (HB 1). It now heads to the Senate where its future is still evolving, along with the ultimate impact on state revenue and taxation needs. After the late night vote on HB 1, the House Ways & Means Committee passed its property tax reform bill (HB 2) so that it can be taken up on the floor next week. The school finance bill (HB 3) is also set for floor consideration next week. So the pieces that will determine state revenue needs are in play, but no firm dollar amount or revenue source has been determined. The parallel discussion on increased sales tax revenues, to offset property taxes, appears to have shifted this week from base expansions to an across-the-board increase in the state rate (6.25% to 7.25%, before local government add-ons). The penny increase has been touted to reduce property taxes by 20%. Attached is the BLS Legislative Tracking Report. Please continue to review bills in the categories of interest to you and advise of concerns. Bills of interest will be monitored and appropriately addressed as directed by the Texas Business Law Foundation (“TBLF”).

The committee-hearing phase of the Session continues to ramp up, as the House and Senate continue a wary dance on property tax reform and school finance. Local governments are steadfast in opposition to rollback cap modifications, while school administrators and teachers underscore the difficulty in achieving meaningful change in funding schools. The legislative resolve to reform property taxation and school finance, however, is extremely strong. Increased revenue from sources other than the property tax is key, and in that vain, as reported last week, sales tax expansion looms. Another part of the solution is dependent on the state's biennial budget. Appropriations and supplemental funding bills are now making their way to the floors in both houses. Attached is the BLS Legislative Tracking Report. Please continue to review bills in the categories of interest to you and advise of concerns. Bills of interest will be monitored and appropriately addressed as directed by the Texas Business Law Foundation (“TBLF”).

Today marks the 60th day of the session, and presents the first soft-deadline of the session, the final day for free filing general bills. Bills continue to pour in at the last minute. The House set up its first show of mild rebelliousness with the Senate by moving forward with a $9 billion comprehensive school finance plan (endorsed by 80 House members), in contrast to the Senate's non-comprehensive stand-alone teacher pay raise. The Senate leadership has vowed to catch up soon. The confirmation process for Secretary of State David Whitley has slowed as the Senate leadership looks for the required 21 votes. The 19 Republican/12 Democrat spilt is having an impact. Attached is the BLS Legislative Tracking Report. Please continue to review bills in the categories of interest to you and advise of concerns. Bills of interest will be monitored and appropriately addressed as directed by the Texas Business Law Foundation (“TBLF”).