Senate property tax moves to House

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State Capitol Highlights

The Senate’s property tax reform bill, SB 2, passed the Senate on April 15, was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means for consideration.

The vote on final passage in the Senate was 18-12, with Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, joining Democrats in voting against the measure. One Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, was listed as “present not voting.”

SB 2 would change what is now known as the effective tax rate, that rate at which the entity would earn the exact same amount of revenue as in the previous year, would be renamed to the “no-newrevenue” tax rate. It would also change the term “rollback rate” to “voter-approved rate.”

Also, rollback elections would be triggered automatically when rate increases exceed the new limits and would be placed on the November ballot, the Texas Senate News Service reported.

Dubbed “The Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2019,” the bill’s main goals are to:

1. Lower the rollback rate from eight percent to 3.5 percent for most taxing jurisdictions and 2.5 percent for school districts;

2. Require an automatic tax ratification election if the rollback rate is exceeded, eliminating the petition requirement in current statute;

3. Make information about the tax rates proposed by local taxing units more accessible to property owners and more timely; and

4. Make it easier for property owners to express their opinions about proposed tax rates to local elected officials before tax rates are adopted.

Gov. Abbott, in lauding the movement of SB 2, said he is looking forward to working with Lt. Gov. Patrick, Senate Property Tax Committee Chair Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, Speaker Bonnen and House Ways and Means Chair Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, and the entire Legislature “to provide lasting property tax relief for all Texans.”

Disaster declaration

Gov. Greg Abbott on April 17 issued a State Disaster Declaration for nine Texas counties impacted by recent severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes that caused widespread property damage and the loss of life.

In the declaration, Abbott authorized the use of all available resources of state government and of political subdivisions to aid in response efforts.

Counties included in the disaster declaration are: Cherokee, Freestone, Houston, Leon, Madison, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Shelby and Robertson.