Saturday, July 22, 2017

#TXLEGE: Statements about several of today's bills....

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"Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah"
Psalm 67:4

[Note: The business and commerce committee hearing can be viewed here; our testimony on the health insurance bill can be viewed around the 1 hour 15 minute mark, our testimony on the not changing permitting rules in the middle of the game bill can be found around three hours.]

We signed up to testify on six separate bills today at the Capitol.  We were only able to deliver that testimony on two.  On the final four bills, our remarks are the testimony we would have given if we'd been able to stick around."
  • SB 8 (Creighton): "Relating to health plan and health benefit plan coverage for elective abortion."

    We testified that, similar to the local defunding bill from yesterday,  so long as our society is going to permit the slaughter of innocent children, they ought to at least not ask the rest of us to pay for it.

    That being said, we also realized later that eliminating abortion coverage from basic health insurance can only lower premiums.
  • SB 12 (Buckingham): "Relating to limiting the applicability of municipal and county regulations affecting real property." [Note: This is the bill that would prohibit cities from changing the rules for construction projects in the middle of the game.]

    One of the taxpayer-funded municipal propagandists used the phrase "using zoning to protect property values" and we found that an astonishing euphemism for using the coercive power of the state to artificially restrict housing supply.

    Furthermore, we pointed out that housing costs are the biggest expense for the overwhelming majority of families nationally, in Texas, and here in Austin.  When abusive municipal governments, starting with but not limited to the city of Austin, change the rules in the middle of the game it drives up those housing costs.  This is terrible for upward economic mobility.
  • SB 13 (Burton): "Relating to the issuance of a permit by a political subdivision."  [Note: This bill would establish firm deadlines for cities and counties to deny building permits.  Unless the political subdivision actively denies the permit, it is considered automatically granted after a certain period of time.  Also prohibits county and municipal governments from mandating wage rates.]

    Everything aspect of this bill is awesome.
  • SB 14 (Hall): "Relating to a property owner's right to remove a tree or vegetation." [Note: This is the tree bill.]

    This bill has received a surprising amount of national attention, so there's not a lot that we have to add.  The property rights aspect of this discussion is obvious.  The only thing we would add is that the local politically entrenched disingenuous NIMBY crowd loves to use the tree ordinance as an excuse to delay construction and that anything that reigns in those people can only be a good thing.
  • SB 1 (Bettencourt): "Relating to ad valorem taxation."

    There's been a lot of ink spilled over property taxes, to which we will simply add that the current property tax system is an obvious macroeconomic storm brewing on the medium-term horizon and that it's one of the few things that could truly take down the Texas economy (local government debt is the other).

    Furthermore, lowering the property tax cap would benefit renters alongside homeowners.  Renters (even if they don't realize it) pay property taxes through their rent.  Unfortunately, renters don't receive homestead exemptions.
  • SB 18 (Estes): "Relating to a limit on local government expenditures."

    The flip side to clamping down on taxes is that you need to clamp down on spending as well and this bill does that.

    Furthermore, if you're serious about eliminating property taxes, making cities and counties live under spending caps  starts to make that a realistically viable option in four or six years down the line.

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