As the New Year begins, 30 measures that passed during the 88th Legislative Session are taking effect.
When Texas voters approved property tax relief proposed on the November ballot, most of Senate Bill 2 by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) went into effect immediately. SB 2 permanently raises the homestead exemption on local school taxes from $40,000 to $100,000 per year. However, Article 4 of the measure only went into effect on January 1.
Article 4 limits appraisal value increases for non-homesteaded properties valued at less than $5 million to 20 percent per year. Meanwhile, homestead properties still have a 10 percent appraisal-increase cap.
Senate Bill 17 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) prohibits Texas universities from hiring employees to “perform the duties” of a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) office and is supposed to block any promotion of policies, training, or activities “designed or implemented in reference to race, color, or ethnicity.”
The measure also prohibits universities from requiring ideological oath statements relating to race, equity, antiracism, and social justice, but universities may still hire candidates based on their studies of these topics.
Senior Director of State Coalitions at the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life Scott Yenor previously told Texas Scorecard that lawmakers need to be on the lookout for whether universities are upholding the new legal requirements for disbanding DEI offices.
Lawmakers should look at how DEI personnel have been redeployed. Have offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion merely been relabeled into Offices of Community Engagement and Belonging, or have their personnel been sent packing or back to academic departments? That will be the key indication of the success of SB 17.
House Bill 796 by State Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland) increases public transparency by requiring the chief appraiser of each appraisal district to create, maintain, and annually update a searchable internet database of information about protest hearings conducted by the appraisal review board, including the determination of the protest.
The full list of new state laws can be found here.