Large groups of visitors have crowded the Capitol for the last few weeks, but committee hearings on actual legislation are off to a slow start so far this Session. By the last week of February, less than 60 bills have been heard or set for hearing as of the end of this week. But expect committees to start setting and hearing more bills next week.
HB 2, the companion to SB 2 on property tax reform, is now set for hearing in the House Committee on Ways and Means on February 27, 2019, at 8:00 a.m. in Room 140 of the John H. Reagan (JHR) Building in Austin. It is expected to have a committee substitute which may align it with the committee substitute for SB 2. Some had thought that the House would wait for the Senate bill to come over before having a hearing on property tax reform, but that is not happening. Expect a long hearing, as usual.
What is happening with SB 2? The Senate committee has passed out Senate Bill 2, but it still hasn’t been set for debate on the Senate floor. It needs 19 votes under the 3/5’s rule to come to the floor.
There is still no House or Senate language on a school finance bill, although the House Public Education Committee Chairman may release legislation on a bill by the end of next week. On Thursday, Texas House Democrats announced their plan. They’re asking for a $14.5 billion package that includes all-day pre-K, teacher raises and property tax relief. Their proposal received some pushback from House leaders who would like to wait for the House leadership’s plan.
HB 1521 and SB 858 would make a political subdivision that self-insures for workers’ compensation coverage liable for a claimant’s attorney’s fees under §408.221(c), Labor Code (prevailing claimant entitled to attorney’s fees if insurer appeals) and for administrative penalties and sanctions for an administrative violation in a claim filed by an individual elected, appointed, or employed by the political subdivision and subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The penalty may not be less than twice the amount of benefits payable in connection with the employee’s claim.
At the House Ways & Means committee hearing this week, members heard invited testimony in favor of extending the life of Chapter 312. The committee appeared mostly favorable to continuing economic development incentives by renewing the Sunset date on 312. Two of the Chapter 312 bills were referred to committee this week, but have not yet been scheduled for hearing.
HB 360 By Murphy, Jim. Relating to the extension of the expiration date of the Property Redevelopment and Tax Abatement Act. — referred to committee on House Ways and Means
HB 499 By Button, Angie. Relating to the extension of the expiration date of the Property Redevelopment and Tax Abatement Act. — referred to committee on House Ways and Means
And some new 312 & 313 bills were filed this week:
HB 1977 by Sheryl Cole –relating to a requirement that a fiscal impact statement be provided before a taxing unit may enter into a tax abatement agreement.
HB 2129 Murphy -ten year extension of 313 Sunset date
The Texas House Freedom Caucus unveiled their legislative priorities on Tuesday afternoon, during a Capitol news conference in which the caucus was joined by grassroots conservative activists. Members said their top priorities include preventing non-citizens from voting in Texas elections, banning “taxpayer funded lobbying,” merit pay for teachers in public schools, protecting religious freedom and border security. Other issues include pro-life measures like “fetal heartbeat” bill, and the carry of firearms without a license, also known as “Constitutional Carry.” They also agree with the session’s top issues of property tax “reform” and school finance.
FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Total Bills Filed: 3022
House Bills: 2,132
Senate Bills: 890
Bill Filing Deadline: Friday, March 8