Wednesday, May 1, 2019

#TXLEGE: The most toxic house in Texas

"That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9

Well, property tax "reform" is out of the house...but this is quite the poison pill:
Stickland fueled the boiling over of the evening, though, bringing forward the final amendment for consideration. The contentious measure he offered would strike the newly added contingency clause in the bill. Amendment 48 would essentially decouple SB 2 from House Bill 3, which is currently in the Texas Senate committee process.

The clause Stickland was after is the language added by Burrows into the property tax reform legislation last week that will only afford taxpayers reform and relief if lawmakers pass the school spending spree contained in HB 3. As substituted by Senate Education Chairman State Sen. Larry Taylor (R–Friendswood), that legislation added a contingency clause of its own that makes half of the appropriated monies for property tax relief, as well as a homestead exemption increase, entirely dependent on the passage of sales tax increases by voters on the November ballot.

Burrows, obviously frustrated by the amendment, then was questioned further by Democrat State Rep. Yvonne Davis of Dallas, who cornered Burrows and forced him to articulate the codependency of the bills—with relief being the furthest issue down the line.

“I think you have a very fine amendment here, Mr. Stickland,” Gutierrez said from the back microphone, foreshadowing what appeared to perhaps be an interesting alliance forming for taxpayers before the vote with both sides.

Bonnen indicated that Stickland had requested a record vote and that he, himself, would be voting ‘no,’ a Texas House rarity. Most members followed suit and the amendment failed, garnering a meager 5 ayes and a resounding 143 nays. The vote was a clear indication that the body politic of the Texas House is squarely with Bonnen and his leadership team at the end of the day. Three Democrats and two Republicans supported separating the two bills: Democrat State Reps. Michelle Beckley (Carrollton), Yvonne Davis (Dallas), and Harold Dutton Jr. (Houston), and Republicans Briscoe Cain and Jonathan Stickland.
In other words, they've made even the tiniest, most incremental, improvement in the property tax system contingent upon their orgy of spending masquerading as "school finance reform."

Obviously, this is a terrible deal that any self-respecting legislator should reject.

But this is the Texas Legislature, and...well...they ain't exactly known for self-respect.

So here we are.

As we said yesterday:

Just for good measure:
One amendment, from state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, seems to bar anyone but licensed attorneys from representing taxpayers in the property tax appeal process on a contingency fee basis. The change would likely affect the author of SB 2, state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican and a property tax consultant.

“It affects a lot of people. We'll talk about it in conference,” Geren said. He added, “I don't believe in contingency fees, but if we have to have contingency fees to do this, then I want the lawyers to do that."
In other words, Charlie Geren is literally attacking Paul Bettencourt's business...and the house members are fine with it.

Like we said: Toxic.

Bottom Line: New boss, something something; old boss, something something....

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