In their second meeting as a committee, State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) and the four other members of the Texas Senate Property Tax Committee  adopted an opt-in provision for small taxing units in Senate Bill 2: the Senate version of the “Big Three’s” property tax reform legislation.

An amendment offered by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) allows small or rural cities and counties that do not meet the $15 million threshold to opt into the 2.5% rate and automatic election requirements of the bill. Sen. Bettencourt mentioned the idea was one of the most requested changes by taxpayers at Wednesday’s initial public hearing.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D–McAllen) suggested the committee also include language allowing taxing entities generating more than $15 million to “opt-out” of the legislation as well. Creighton said an amendment of that nature would have to be considered on the floor of the Texas Senate.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills) offered the final amendment of the substitute bill, changing the name of the “rollback rate” to the “voter approved tax rate,” also at the suggestion of taxpayers testifying on the original bill.

The committee held public testimony for Senate Bill 2 last week. During his opening remarks Monday, Bettencourt confirmed taxpayers’ suspicions following public testimony that every person who had testified and registered in opposition to the bill was either employed by a city or county in the state of Texas or represented them as a registered lobbyist before the committee last week.

53 people, Bettencourt said, testified in favor of the bill as “citizen warriors” making the trek to Austin from every corner of the state.

Senate Bill 2 is expected to be considered on the floor of the Texas Senate next week.

[timeline-express timeline=”HB / SB 2 (2019 Property Tax Reform)”]

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.