I was planning to send you this email tomorrow, but as many of you may know, the Texas Legislature ended the special session a day early. With possibly the most ambitious call, or list of items to consider, in the history of the state, I would never have predicted that we would not use all of the thirty days available to us. However, things did not go quite as expected.
Yesterday evening, after concurring with the Senate’s school finance and TRS Care legislation, the Texas House of Representatives gaveled out “sine die”, officially ending their chamber’s activities for the special session. This was immediately after House leadership made it clear they were not going to negotiate further on the Senate’s property tax reform bill. A number of conservative House members wanted to remain in session but their objections were not recognized and the motion to adjourn “sine die” prevailed.
I am extremely disappointed. I had issues with the latest version of the property tax reform bill we passed out of the Senate. I fought fiercely against an amendment offered on our own chamber’s floor that left many Texans out of the protections in the bill. Unfortunately that amendment prevailed by a vote of 17-14. Then, the bill was weakened even further in the House. At that point, we needed to continue negotiations between the chambers on this critical issue. We needed to use all the time available to pass a strong property tax reform bill.
Instead, leadership in the Texas House left the field of play early. Please know, even though our efforts failed on this issue, I will continue to fight to provide long-term, meaningful property tax relief for the people of my district and across Texas. We must slow the rate of growth in local property taxes.
Here is a list of the Governor’s expanded special session called items and their fates:
1. Teacher pay increase of $1,000 from existing appropriations to schools (Passed Senate only)
2. Greater flexibility in hiring/firing teachers for school districts (Did not pass out of either chamber)
3. Commission to study/make recommendations for overhaul of school finance system (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
4. School choice for special needs students (Passed Senate only)
5. Property tax reform with strong rollback provision (Both chambers passed their own version, but no final agreement was made. House version had weaker rollback, no universal automatic elections, no opt in for exempted entities, and a much larger exemption)
6. Caps on state and local spending (State spending limit passed Senate only; Local spending limit did not pass out of either chamber)
7. Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land (Stronger Senate version died in House; Weaker House version passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
8. Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects (Did not pass out of either chamber)
9. Speeding up local government permitting process (Passed Senate only; Note: I carried this bill for the Governor.)
10. Municipal annexation reform (Passed out of both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
11. Complete preemption of related local ordinances for the just-passed statewide texting and driving ban (Passed Senate only)
12. Women’s Privacy Act (Passed Senate only)
13. Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues (Passed Senate only)
14. Prohibition of local taxpayer funding for abortion providers (Passed Senate only)
15. Prohibition on private insurance subsidizing abortion (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
16. Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
17. Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
18. Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
19. Extending maternal mortality task force (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
Governor Abbott broadened the scope of his call early in session allowing the legislature to also consider the following:
20. Teacher benefits, including TRS Care (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
21. School finance legislation, including addressing ASATR (Passed both chambers and sent to Governor’s desk)
As you can see, the state is most definitely better off after our special session. We achieved a lot, notably on advancing the culture of life in Texas and on providing some relief to retired teachers on their healthcare costs. But we did not get my top priority, property tax relief and reform, done. Again, I am deeply disappointed and will continue to fight for you on this and many other issues as we move ahead.
If you have any questions, please reach out to my office and let my staff know!
P.S. Join my text message alert system for updates on what’s happening in SD 10 and on the upcoming special session by texting KONNI to 97000!