Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#TXLEGE: Numerous Strong #SpecialSession Property tax bills already filed!!!

"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

During his press conference announcing the special session, Governor Abbott said he wanted to see property tax relief in the form of "SB 2 [from the regular session] or better;" the precise language from the call leaves wide latitude for 'or better':
Legislation reforming the laws governing ad valorem property taxes.
While the big enchilada property tax bills have yet to be unveiled, a number of other property tax bills have been filed that fall well within the bounds of "or better":
  • HJR 16/HB 44 (Keough): "Relating to a limitation on increases in the appraised value of real property for ad valorem tax purposes."

    While it could go further, Keough's constitutional amendment and bill would begin to reign in out-of-control appraisal growth and it would apply those limits to all property, not just residential homesteads.
  • HJR 19/HB 71 (Bohac): "Relating to the limitation on increases in the appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem taxation."

    Bohac's constitutional amendment and bill is similar to Keough's but only applies to residential homesteads, not all property.
  • HB 75 (Darby): "Relating to transferring to the property tax relief fund one-half of any unencumbered balance of general revenue at the end of a state fiscal biennium."

    Darby's bill would dedicate half of any unspent revenue at the end of a budget cycle to property tax relief.
  • HJR 21/HB 82 (Darby): "Relating to the abolition of school district maintenance and operations ad valorem taxes.

    Darby's constitutional amendment and bill would eliminate the largest part of school district property taxes.

    [Note: Considering his role in killing property tax relief during the regular session, clearly Darby was taken to the woodshed by the Governor during the interim.]
  • HJR 23/HB 88 (Bell): "Relating to a limitation on increases in the appraised value of real property for ad valorem tax purposes.

    Bell's constitutional amendment and bill is similar to Keough's but with a whole bunch of exemptions related to local corporate welfare agreements.
  • HB 91 (Swanson): "Relating to the abolition of ad valorem taxes and a study of alternative methods of taxation to replace revenue lost to political subdivisions as a result of the abolition of ad valorem taxes."

    This is similar to the abolition of property taxes bill Swanson filed during the regular session and is consistent with the RPT legislative priority on property taxes abolition.
  • SB 21 (Nelson): "Relating to the system for protesting or appealing certain ad valorem tax determinations; authorizing a fee."

    Nelson's bill is rather complicated, but to the best of our understanding it would increase taxpayer protections in the appraisal appeal process and give the office of the Comptroller significantly more jurisdiction over appraisal boards.
A cynic will note that a number of these measures are constitutional amendments, meaning they need 100 votes in the House and 21 in the Senate to pass.  Thus, some of these measures might be more intended for show than for implementation.  That's certainly possible, but if events break in the right way we don't think it's inconceivable that a few of these make it across the finish line around day 26 or day 27 of the special.

And, again, keep in mind that the main property tax measure has yet to be unveiled.

Bottom Line: The status quo crowd should have taken 5% automatic rollback elections when that was the deal on the table.

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