Originally published on February 25, 2019.
While February is the shortest month, it has not felt that way around the Texas Capitol. Committees are meeting daily and votes on bills are beginning: over 1,000 Senate Bills have been filed this legislative session. There are many that I’m working on, but I would like to take this opportunity to discuss two bills in particular.
I am a coauthor of Senate Bill 2, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2019. Property tax is a top priority this legislative session for my constituents; this issue comes up more often any other. The Governor and Lt. Governor agree and are actively pursuing property tax reform. Our bill presents a solution to slow down ever-increasing local tax rates and empower voters to better control their taxes.
A primary objective of the bill is lowering the rollback rate. This rate establishes a tax increase threshold that when passed, triggers an automatic voter-approval election to certify the new tax rate. Currently, that rate is 8%; our bill seeks to move the rate down to 2.5%.
While the move from 8% to 2.5% may seem small, imagine the compounding effect this can have over 5 or 10 years of taxation––all without voter approval. This rollback rate reduction only applies to taxing units with annual revenue that exceed $15 million; smaller districts will remain at the 8% rollback rate with voter opt-in.
The sad reality is local property taxes are forcing residents out of homes. I’m even feeling the heat with a recent property tax increase on my home in Pleasanton. This bill incentivizes local officials to only raise property taxes after bringing the plan before voters (i.e. taxpayers) for approval. It is their money, after all.
As of writing, this bill has passed through the Senate Property Tax Committee and is now pending to be heard on the Senate Floor. Passing meaningful property tax reform is right for you and Texas.
I am also a coauthor of Senate Bill 10, which establishes the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium. This consortium among Texas health institutions will foster collaboration and improve our understanding of mental health issues. Additionally, through my membership on two Senate Committees––Finance and Health & Human Services––I am fighting for a major appropriation for San Antonio State Hospital (SASH). SASH serves 54 counties in central Texas and hundreds of thousands of Senate District 19 constituents. The facility is in desperate need of repair and the capital I am fighting for will allow SASH to better serve our communities.
Otherwise, it was an honor last week to introduce (and the Senate adopt) Senate Resolution 113, officially recognizing February 19, 2019 as Texas Game Warden Day. There are hundreds of dedicated officers patrolling Texas with the commitment of protecting its natural resource and people––as the first Warden in the Texas Legislature, celebrating these men and women was a special day for me.
There are three county Legislative Days coming to the Capitol this week: Pecos County on Tuesday, Crockett and Reeves Counties on Thursday. Eagle Pass Legislative Day will be on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
The next time you read this column, the filing deadline for all bills will have passed and voting on the Senate floor will occur daily. As always, please contact my Capitol office with all opinions on legislation at (512) 463-0119 or send us an email at District19.Flores@senate.texas.gov. I am here for you; adelante!