The Texas Legislative Session is moving along quickly now that both the Senate and House committees have been set. Several hearings have already taken place, primarily to discuss the state budget. This week, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen held a press conference to announce their support of two bills relating to ad valorem taxation. The two identical bills filed by Senator Bettencourt (SB 2) and by Representative Burrows (HB 2) would place the rollback rate from the current 8% to 2.5% for taxing units with more than $15 million in combined sales and property revenues. This is one of the Chamber’s top legislative priorities in our legislative agenda, and we were very engaged in the debate over this issue during the last legislative session. We will continue to keep a close eye on this as the session unfolds.
The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. It takes a three-fifths majority (19 votes) to bring a bill to the floor. As expected, Senate committee chairs, selected by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, are heavily Republican (14 Republican chairs, 2 Democrat chairs). We were fortunate to have local Senator Donna Campbell (SD-25) selected as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Border Security Committee.
Things differ greatly in the House. Of the 34 committees, twelve will be chaired by Democrats. Speaker Bonnen also selected Representative Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, as Speaker Pro Tem, to run the chamber in the Speaker’s absence – a post last held by Bonnen himself.
San Antonio Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (HD-116) was selected as Chair of the Business & Industry Committee, which has oversight over manufacturing, wages, collective bargaining, and the relationship between employers and employees, all important issues for our business community. Other big wins for our region are Rep. Diego Bernal being selected as Vice Chair of the Public Education Committee and both Rep. Ina Minjarez (HD-124) and Rep. Philip Cortez (HD-117) taking spots on the Appropriations Committee. Overall, we have one of the best delegations in the State, and they are known to work well together and unite on issues that are important to Bexar County.
Next Tuesday, Governor Abbott will deliver his State of the State. Expect the property tax reform in HB2/SB2 to be a main feature along with school finance reform.