Pre-filing for bills in the 83rd Legislature has already begun. Here’s a look at some notable pieces of legislation so far.
HB 88 by Bill Callegari – this would set a constitutional limit on the rate of growth of approprations to no more than the sum of population growth plus inflation. If that rate is a negative number, total spending for the biennium must decrease accordingly.
HB 95 by James White – this would exempt schools districts from complying with unfunded state educational mandates, unless the mandate fulfills an “important state interest” or is necessary to comply with federal law. Rep. White attempted to pass a similar bill as a freshman last session. It will be interesting to see if his bill actually sees the light of day in a committee hearing this time around.
HB 98 by Charles Perry – this would implement zero-based budgeting for all entities receiving appropriations on a six year basis, requiring each entity to describe and justify each activity with a legal statute or authority, to estimate the adverse effects if an expenditure was discontinued, to itemize each expenditure required to maintain both a minimum and current level of service, and list the services provided in order of importance.
SB 101 by Dan Patrick – this implements the same constitutional rate of growth of appropriations as HB 88, but provides that any surplus revenue collected will be used to rebate portions of the franchise tax back to businesses in proportion to how much they initially paid.
SB 102 by Dan Patrick – currently any local taxing unit other than a school district can set a property tax rate without any repercussion from voters, so long as the rate is equal or less to their “rollback tax rate” – determined by a complicated formula. If an entity other than school district goes over the rollback tax rate, an election is required only if taxpayers receive enough signatures on a petition to call for one. Sen. Patrick’s bill would both limit how high the rollback tax rate can increase, and automatically call for an election any time that entity sets a rate above the rollback rate.
SB 113 by Craig Estes – this would completely repeal the franchise tax, also known as the gross margins tax – a burden on the state’s otherwise efficient economic engine.
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HB 109 by Richard Raymond – would allow for local option elections to legalize or prohibit the operation of eight-liners (better known as video slot machines). Unlike slot machines, eight liners are played by the insertion of money, with the chance to earn a small non-cash reward. If this law passes, a $350 annual fee shall be collected by the state for each eight-liner, if legalized by the local governmental entity. This is a step towards full legalization of slot machines and other forms of gambling – something Texas should strictly avoid.
HB 145 by Mark Strama – this would take all responsibilities of the Legislature in drawing restricting maps and give it to a newly created Texas Redistricting Commission. When power is taken from elected officials and given to an unelected bureaucracy, it’s a recipe for bad policy and poor accountability.
HJR 31 by Richard Raymond – this would create a constitutional amendment prohibiting a voucher program for our educational system. While the details of such a program need to be worked out, flat out eliminating an opportunity for parents to pull their children out of failing schools and get them into a better learning environment is appalling, and serves only the interest of bureaucrats and administrators in our failing public education system.
SB 81 by Rodney Ellis – this would allow voters to register at the polling place, instead of registering at least 30 days before the election. This has the potential for all sorts of problems and voting fraud and definitely should not be implemented without a Voter ID system in place.
SJR 6 by Rodney Ellis – this proposed a constitutional amendment to fully legalize gambling in Texas. That’s a losing hand for Texas and will create far more budget problems than any potential solutions it may provide.
SB 78 by Rodney Ellis – this would require certain entities to prepare a “climate adaptation plan” to assess the entity’s role with respect to “climate change.” Apparently the left is still shrilling about global warming, despite the lack of proof to show it’s actually taking place. Glad to know all of our budgetary issues are solved and tax burdens relieved to warrant tackling such issues this session.
SCR 2 by Rodney Ellis – this would urge the United States Congress to pass an amendment that overturns the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling. Apparently Sen. Ellis and those on the left are more than willing to diminish the First Amendment, and political speech it protects, as long as it’s in their own interest.