Legislative Update: May 10, 2019

There are 17 days left in the 86th Legislative Session, and each Chamber has introduced four more local bills for a total of 4,764 bills authored by House members and 2,559 bills authored by Senators.

On April 30, 2019, the House passed SB2, which was one of Governor Greg Abbott’s top priorities. Abbott campaigned on the promise to deliver tax relief by capping property tax revenue for local governments and school districts at 2.5 percent. The House and the Senate ultimately landed at capping the city and counties at 3.5 percent annual growth. School district property taxes will be addressed in a separate bill.

Last Wednesday, the Texas House State Affairs committee passed Senate Bill 2486, which would prevent cities from regulating private employers’ scheduling and overtime. The State Affairs Committee restored previous language that provides protection for LGBT workers, after hearing from numerous business leaders and civil rights groups. The bill passed on a vote of 10 – 2 after more than six hours of testimony. The legislation has already passed the Texas Senate and now moves for a vote on the House floor.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed House Bill 3, carried by Chairman Larry Taylor, adding 40 of the proposed 109 amendments to the bill. The Senate version keeps their original $5,000 across the board pay raise for teachers and adds $780 million to fully fund Pre-K for low income students. Other amendments added provisions to assist small school districts, removed the increase to the homestead exemption, and reduced by 1/3 the original property tax reduction from 15 cents per $100 of valuation to 10 cents per $100 of valuation. All increases in the sales tax were removed and the cost of the bill was reduced from over $15 billion to just over $9 billion. Senator Kirk Watson successfully amended the bill to add $3 billion in revenue by online sales tax and a severance tax on oil and gas production.

One controversial portion of the House Bill 3 includes tying funding to results of 3rd grade reading tests. The Senate wants to tie state-mandated assessments, commonly referred to as STAAR, to funding, while the House does not. This is causing concern among parents and school administrators.

Both House and Senate HB3 Conferees have already been appointed, and we are proud to have Bexar County Rep. Diego Bernal be part of the committee as well as Senator Donna Campbell.  Other conferees include:

  • House: Rep. Dan Huberty, Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Rep. Trent Ashby, and Rep. Ken King
  • Senate: Sen. Larry Taylor, Sen. Jane Nelson, Sen. Royce West, and Sen. Kirk Watson

Although Chairman Dan Huberty initially indicated House Joint Resolution 3 would be up this week, there was no need to debate a sales tax bill that would not pass the Senate. It is on hold for now.

Senate Bill 2 Senate conferees have also been appointed: Kelly Hancock, Paul Bettencourt, Jose “Chuy” Hinojosa, Brandon Creighton, and Charles Perry.  House conferees have not yet been announced.

On Tuesday, the Chamber’s Vice President for Military Affairs and Leadership Development, Lori Stinson, traveled to Austin to provide testimony against Senate Bill 422, authored by Sen. Donna Campbell. Last legislative session brought a win for our region in securing our military missions when Campbell’s SB 6 passed, creating 5-mile Military Buffer Areas and noting that if voters choose not to be annexed, the City may still extend land use controls to future development, as long as those controls are consistent with DOD-commissioned Joint Land Use Studies.

As SB 422 is originally written, the voters who choose to not be annexed into the City would not incur fees or fines by the City meant to protect these same missions. Without the ability to levy fees and fines on development that conflicts with Joint Land Use recommendations, the City has no ability to enforce these protections to ensure that development is compatible with the military missions.

After receiving letters from Joint Base San Antonio, the 502d Air Base Wing, the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, as well as other cities throughout the state opposing this legislation, Representative Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia, District 3) relayed his intent to work closely with stakeholders to include language that will safeguard military missions. Noting the importance of protecting landowner’s rights while also securing our vital military missions, which bring more than $100 Billion to the Texas economy, the Committee promised a substitute that should satisfy the intent of the bill and include exceptions for our military partners throughout the state.

As the session winds down, there are some key dates to keep in mind this week:

  • May 9 – Last day for consideration of 2nd reading of House Bills

Your Chamber has and will continue to stay engaged and take action when necessary. The following actions have taken place over the past few weeks:

  • Public Testimony in Support of SB 2485, SB 2486 and SB 2487 (Preemption of PSL, Scheduling and Pay/Benefits Ordinances)
  • Card in Support of HB 3172 (Protecting Employers First Amendment Rights)
  • Card in Support of HB 4756 (Indexing the State Gas Tax)
  • Card in Opposition to SB 478 (Derailing the Texas Central Project)
  • Card in Opposition to SB 974 (Derailing the Texas Central Project)
  • Card in Support of HB 1578 (Mental Health Crisis & Suicide Prevention Task Force)
  • Card in Support of SB 10 (Mental Health Consortium)
  • Card in Support of SB 633 (Increase Capacity of Local Mental Health Authorities)
  • Card in Support of SB 748 (Newborn Screening Preservation Account)
  • Card in Support of SB 1636 (Health Professionals Council Report)
  • Card in Support of SB 2151 (Texas Diabetes Council State Plan)
  • Card in Support of HB 39 (Limitation on Award of Grants for Cancer Research & Prevention)
  • Card in Support of SB 11 (School Safety)
  • Card in Support of SB 2042 (TEA Study)
  • Letter in Support of “Military Exception” clause in SB 422 (Annexation Penalties)
  • Card in support of HB 3143 (Reauthorization of Ch. 312)
  • Card in support of SB 2299 (Military Installations – Critical Infrastructure for flying drones)

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